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Friday, December 23, 2005

By Spellman: A call for public hearings

Dear Walworth County Board Members:

We are asking you to hold a special investigative hearing into the drastic and dramatic changes being made in your name and in the name of the citizens of Walworth County.

In the name of saving 10 cents per $1,000 or $20 on a house of $200,000 or $100 on a $1 million dollar farm or vacation home, Walworth County will be decimating the services to the mentally ill and needy citizens of the county.

These fellow citizens in large part did nothing particular to have the conditions they have, but their need is real and the cost effectiveness of the current system has been proven.

It may be that costs to taxpayers will dramatically rise as clients will need increasing hospital admissions as our current community based program loses its ability to care for clients and patients in the community.

Walworth County has for its history a fine and proud tradition of caring for those who live in its borders, of caring for those who were less fortunate than many of the rest of the citizens of the county.

In the name of the 10 pennies per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, a system of care and nurturing and keeping people safe is being destroyed.

Your immediate attention is required if this travesty is to be reversed.

The effects of Dani Maculan's misguided program changes are as follows:

1) The loss of several key program staff who have resigned or taken early retirements because of professional and personal differences with Ms. Maculan.

2) The loss of program expertise and personal relationships with clients and patients is incalculable.

3) The loss of a strong crisis intervention service to meet not only the ongoing needs of its existing clients but also the needs of suicidal and homicidal personals who are referred by law enforcement or by families.

4) The loss of adequate psychiatry services and the diminished appreciation of the need for adequate and timely follow-up by psychiatrists. Many patients who use Human Services have profound and serious mental disorders that need frequent and thorough follow-up.

5) The system suggested by Ms. Maculan underestimates the needs of many of the clients who seek the services of the Human Services department.

Public hearings inviting the staff who are leaving and patients and families willing to testify could give more information on the difficulities of the proposed cuts and changes proposed by Ms. Maculan, as well as provide information on the budget figures offered to date and the potential huge costs of increased hospitalizations if the proposed system is implemented.

The decision is in your hands. Please, in the name of all that is good, hold an investigative hearing, and when you verify that the above cuts are in fact the result of misguuided application of penny-wise and pound-foolish thinking, please restore these programs and undo as much of the damage as possible.

Time is of the essence.

We are the parents of a now young adult who is cognitively disabled and has cystic fibrosis. She is number 100-plus on the list of supportive services.

If these cuts to the needy are passed, what will happen next year to the services for the 100-plus families on the waiting list, much less those already receiving such services?

Tom and Dona Spellman, Lake Geneva

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