Philadelphia, PA: Community Behavioral Health has started a wide ranging investigation on irregularities in the management of mental health clinics, especially those located in North Philadelphia, in the 197th state legislative district.. There are a total of 19 clinics in this area, of which 11 are in the Hispanic community. Of these 11 mental health centers, 6 could be under a federal investigation, which includes possible Medicaid fraud according to information obtained by this newspaper from entirely credible sources.
The six Hispanic institutions with alleged problems or under investigation have approximately 30 thousand patients which could be directly affected. This would pose an enormous problem for these families, the community and public health which will directly impact a community with approximately 187 thousand inhabitants.
El Faro newspaper understands the role authorities have in overseeing the proper functioning of these institutions and does not wish to be on the side of those that have violated norms and procedures or have violated the laws that regulate the mental health system. We do however expect a fair and just investigation one following due legal procedures in which no rights are violated for ethnic reasons and in which a whole community suffers.
What has us concerned as a communications medium is what will become of 30 thousand patients which can become unprotected, with no medication and no psychotherapy programs. Worst of all we fear the risk of people being referred to other non- bilingual centers.
Assistance in Spanish to these patients cannot be substituted, prevalence of language and culture are determining factors in patients who do not speak English.
The number of people which could be unemployed could be over 400 with a direct impact on 500 families.
This is in addition to an already high unemployment rate currently affecting the Philadelphia Hispanic community. These factors should be considered and how the closings will impact daily living in an entire community. The measures could directly affect a little over 30 thousand patients.
This would impact 30,000 patients which could be referred to other non-bilingual not culturally sensitive outpatient mental health centers. If this were to occur the communication equilibrium between patient and therapists would be interrupted and so also very important cultural ties.
It would be ideal if no institution closed but if in following legal procedures the authorities were to close certain mental health clinics then those patients should be referred to other qualified Hispanic centers ones with no legal problems. They should not be referred to English speaking clinics with no knowledge of Hispanic culture.
CONSULTING THE POLITICAL SECTOR
When contacted via telephone by this newspaper, State Representative Leslie Acosta of the 197th legislative district stated “Everyone knows that my office is always there to help not only mental health clinics but all businesses in my district” She then added “Anything that I can do to ensure that mental health centers in our community continue to function correctly I will do. However any center that may be under federal investigation or any other legal problem should defend themselves in court since that is out of my jurisdiction.