Sunday, July 14, 2013

Why Kathleen Eilers Was Rejected As BHD Director

In June, the Milwaukee County Health and Human Needs Committee rejected Kathleen Eilers as the new director of the Behavioral Health Division.  The reasons for their rejections was pretty clear:
James "Luigi" Schmitt was the only committee member to vote for Eilers. Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr. said he voted to deny confirmation to Eilers only because she was brought in to help close the units.

"You're a hired gun," he told Eilers, a description he repeated four times.

Mayo said the patients at Hilltop, the unit devoted to people with mental illness and intellectual impairments, are "our most vulnerable."

"We don't have a plan for them," Mayo said.

Supervisors said they were unhappy with Eilers' refusal last week to provide detailed information about state and federal inspections of the complex. Eilers said she declined the request for information "because I didn't think we had the information ready."
Eilers claim of not having the information ready fell apart when it learned that the information had already been given to the media.

Despite the showing of strong opposition to Eilers, Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele stuck with her, claiming he could find no one else that wanted to work for him. That claim is perfectly understandable, considering how many of his previous staffers he's thrown under the bus, mostly for not kissing the Imperial Ring the correct way.

 Furthermore, Abele's agenda is not to downsize the mental health complex, but to closed it all down altogether. Abele claims that our most vulnerable citizens will be protected by a community-based safety net, even though he keeps cutting holes in this net by cutting services.  Who would want to come in to that disaster knowing that they would be out of work again in a couple of years, if not sooner.

Last week, the County Board voted as a whole on Eilers' nomination and, as it should be, they rejected her nomination.

Abele and his minions immediately played the victim card, claiming the Board did it only out of spite of his plutocratic power grab.

Supervisor Peggy Romo West corrected that false assertion with this press release:

Supervisor Peggy Romo West issued the following statement regarding a vote by the County Board to reject the appointment of Kathleen Eilers to Milwaukee County Behavior Health Division (BHD) Administrator:
“Kathie Eilers should have been brought in as a consultant, instead of administrator, to assist BHD with the Hilltop Unit Closures now taking place. However, the County Board made it abundantly clear that the new BHD administrator should be someone who is committed to working with state and federal surveyors to address the immediate issues at BHD while creating and maintaining an environment which is safe and healing for our consumers.

“By continually bringing forward and confirming appointees who make short-term commitments, we are perpetuating the lack of accountability that has been allowed to continue for years. It is far past time that the Milwaukee County Board makes this clear: We are not a rubber stamp. We have expectations and we demand accountability at BHD.

“The board has expressed to the County Executive in the past a strong desire to make Mental Health redesign a priority. I am disappointed the County Executive did not hear us. With this vote, we sent the message it is no longer acceptable to address reports of abuse or deaths of patients with what has become the standard reply by the administration: ‘This is why we are moving to a community-based model in the next two to three years’.

“Patients should not have a different set of expectations for treatment or experience at BHD than they would at any other area hospital. They should not have to worry about sexual, physical or verbal abuse during their visit. However, this is the reality that has been allowed to continue at BHD.

“We must do all we can now to protect the patients we currently have and looking down the road two to three years out is clearly not the answer as our state and federal survey and citations show.”
I would be not at all surprised if more issues surrounding the mental health complex and Abele's deplorable treatment of our most vulnerable citizens arise in the near future.

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