To the Editor:
Your article about the prayer service held at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital to honor those affected by the Connecticut shootings was touching (Dec. 19). The chaplain spoke with eloquence about the need for restraint of anger toward the shooter, as well as the hospital ministry of caring for the mentally ill.
What is not stated in your article, however, is that Advocate Good Shepherd quietly closed its inpatient psychiatric unit in May 2011. The hospital no longer provides critically needed services to the mentally ill in our community. If patients are in need of inpatient psychiatric care, they are transferred out, often to distant facilities where it is difficult for their families to maintain contact. If they present in the emergency room, they are required to wait in a small treatment room for bed availability at another hospital, a process that often takes several days.
The current reality is that children and adults are often unable to access appropriate treatment in the event of a psychiatric crisis in their own community.