Monday, August 23, 2010

Is the County Mental Health Complex "Walker's Problem"?

The JS is running a series of articles about the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. (Link is to Part 3; links for Parts 1 & 2 are on the page.)

And there is a laundry-list of problems; among them: the building is not compliant with "current best practices," there are staffing shortages, and there is a perennial money shortage.

When one reads the articles at one sitting, you get the distinct impression that the authors are valiantly resisting pinning the blame on Scott Walker--which their AFSCME sources would LOVE to see. However, the "It's All Walker's Fault" theme, subdued as it is, still emerges faintly from the stories.

But IS it "all Walker's fault"?

In a word, no. Let's take the three items I mentioned above.

1) The current building is ~30 years old and was built prior to Walker taking office. Meantime, psychiatric "standards of treatment" changed. As a result, Milwaukee County should either extensively remodel the existing building (expensive!!), build an entirely new one (expensive!!) or acquire and remodel another facility (expensive!!). The articles make it clear that the County Board simply will not agree with Walker on a resolution--and hint that the Board also cannot agree with ITSELF on a resolution, either.

2) Every hospital in the State of Wisconsin is looking for RN's. So "staffing shortages" are not exactly unique to the Complex. But it is also clear that the Union is doing most of the screeching about "shortages," (what's new??). It's not mentioned, but I'll bet that Union Rules have something to do with it--not to mention a shortage of RN's that is endemic. To their credit, the authors mention that one "shortage" was caused by a Union Member abandoning their post for "Union Business."

3) The State of Wisconsin under Jim Doyle, (a fraud and a snake) have cut back on funding to the County's Medicaid program, which directly impacts everything.

When Walker becomes the Governor, he will have the solution within his grasp: transfer the Complex to the State of Wisconsin. Let the Union bargain with the State; and if that doesn't result in a better agreement, simply close the Complex and move the patients to State facilities elsewhere.

HINT: there's a boys' prison which will soon become vacant.

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