Activists rally against mental health clinic closures

April 17, 2012 2:20:07 PM PDT
Two people were arrested Tuesday at a protest against the closure of Woodlawn Mental Health Center on the city's South Side.

Woodlawn is one of six mental health facilities slated to close under a plan that consolidates the city's 12 clinics. Officials say it will improve mental health care in Chicago, but protestors want all of the clinics to remain open.

The two arrests-- near the clinic at 63 rd Street and Woodlawn-- follow 23 others last week. Officials say the protestors were setting up tents in an abandoned lot.

"We did everything by the book. They don't want us, so we have to go to the next extreme, to occupy this lot," Diane Adams, protestor, said.

Helen Morely uses services at the Woodlawn clinic. She spent the night protesting with the hope that the city will look elsewhere to make budget cuts.

"I hope that we can change them and change it around, and keep the clinics going because I love my therapist. I've known him 15 years, and I know without him, I'd be lost," Morely said.

The city claims the reforms planned for the clinics will improve mental health services and no one's quality of care will be diminished.

"A majority of the clients depend on us for services and will continue to receive services through one of the remaining CDPH facilities. A small number of clients who already have insurance will be transitioning their care to community mental health providers," said Dept. of Public Health Cmsr. Bechara Choucair.

The demonstrators said they plan to stay at the Woodlawn Mental Health Center until Mayor Rahm Emanuel agrees to keep all of the public clinics open.