HOLLIDAYSBURG — Funding cutbacks for psychological well being providers have turned the Blair County Jail into the biggest psychological well being remedy facility within the county, Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb mentioned Thursday.
Calling for extra state funding of psychological well being providers, Erb spoke of native trickle-down results after years of flat funding and funding cuts for psychological well being providers.
“We see the devastating hostile results each day right here in Blair County,” Erb mentioned. “You want look no additional than the regular enhance in incarcerations of people affected by untreated behavioral well being situations which have led to creating our jail the biggest psychological well being remedy facility within the county.”
“For sure,” Erb added, “our county jail is ill-equipped and staffed to be the biggest psychological well being remedy facility.”
Erb additionally named UPMC Altoona’s emergency division as one other sufferer of psychological well being funding cuts.
He spoke of the division’s well-publicized overcrowded situations which have been “severely exacerbated due to the dearth of other remedy and diversion for these affected by psychological well being situations.”
The commissioners’ feedback surfaced Thursday throughout what is meant to be a six-week effort to name consideration to legislative priorities and funding wants recognized by the County Commissioners Affiliation of Pennsylvania.
That affiliation, which represents and lobbies on behalf of county governments, recognized psychological well being funding as its prime precedence for 2022.
“I can’t overstate the need and urgency of accelerating state help for county psychological well being providers to stave off the collapse of a core a part of the commonwealth’s psychological well being system,” Erb mentioned.
Final week, Erb and fellow commissioners Laura Burke and Amy Webster adopted a proclamation marking Could as Psychological Well being Consciousness month. It referred to as for a dedication towards a larger consciousness and understanding of psychological well being points and providers.
Burke, eventually week’s assembly, spoke of the necessity for state lawmakers to revive $84 million in psychological well being funding that was lower in 2012.
Erb acknowledged that Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2022-23 funds consists of a further $36.6 million for psychological well being providers, which he mentioned may deliver funding ranges again to two-thirds of what they had been 11 years in the past.
“Whereas this doesn’t absolutely meet the necessity,” Erb mentioned, “I applaud Governor Wolf’s efforts and ask our state legislators to help this enhance.”
Erb additionally referred to as upon state lawmakers to protect the Behavioral HealthChoices program permitting counties, together with Blair, to manage native psychological well being providers for Medicaid-eligible residents.
Via Blair HealthChoices, preparations had been made to workers the county jail with a full-time psychological well being forensic case supervisor.
That’s an ideal instance of the added worth that the HealthChoices program brings to Blair County authorities, Erb mentioned.
Mirror Workers Author Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.