The planned closing of Mercy Hospital underscores the dramatic loss of maternity services in Chicago over the past year — reflecting the failure of local government agencies to adequately fund critical services in vulnerable communities, advocates say.
In March, Anthony Hill, an Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan, was shot and killed by a police officer in suburban Atlanta. Neighbors called police when an unarmed Hill was seen wandering around his apartment complex naked. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Hill’s death is one example of a recent deadly encounter between police and people living with mental illness. Shootings in Dallas and Milwaukee also have made national news and sparked calls for better police training.
Two years after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shut down half of the city’s mental health clinics, the Mental Health Movement is charging that the city “is sabotaging its remaining services by refusing to serve people getting health benefits through the Affordable Care Act.” Tens of thousands of Chicagoans signed up for CountyCare, Cook County’s early rollout of ACA’s Medicaid expansion, but the city chose not to join the CountyCare network. A health department spokesman told the Tribune last month that current clients who enroll in Medicaid will be able to keep seeing their therapists. But a clinic staff member told me recently he’d been instructed not to accept CountyCare enrollees as new patients and to transfer patients who joined CountyCare to private providers. “The city is pushing people out and they’re not following up to see if they are getting care,” said N’Dana Carter of the MHM.