(01/14/2006)
By Bob Weaver

A Clay County woman who had been ordered to a 30-day psychiatric evaluation was returned to the the Town of Clay without placement last week, no place to go.

Teresa Rock, who calls herself the "Queen of Israel" was given shelter and food by Clay's Go-Mart employees starting Thursday, the store being open 24-hours.

The Clay Communicator reported she was penniless, without her meds and homeless, but through the kindness of the community $700 was raised to purchase her medication.

County commissioners King and Triplett, among others, went to work trying to find her a place to stay, but the disturbed woman declined the arrangements.

The Communicator reported Friday night "She came unglued, after being told she could not smoke inside the Go-Mart building, threatening the night shift workers."

Law enforcement was called, chasing the woman around the parking lot. Clay's Mayor Arthur Jarrett got Rock a room at the Henry Clay Hotel.

Saturday morning Jarrett was under the impression Charleston Area Medical Center had a place for Rock in their psychiatric unit, but after driving her to Charleston and while waiting for the accommodations, Rock got away from the mayor and fled to the streets, again without money or meds.

Clay residents showed abundant kindness in trying to help the situation and law enforcement did their best not to create criminal charges against the woman, but it was obvious that no social service agency would step to the plate and handle the situation.

Since the advent of the highly-acclaimed "de-institutionalization" of the mentally ill and the privatization of the mental health system, mostly with taxpayer money, there are frequently no services and no room in the inn.

In West Virginia, we allow a "private" director of Northwood's mental health center in Wheeling to receive a $500,000 taxpayer-supported salary, lauding him for his managerial skills to use taxpayer money to make a profit for the non-profit agency.

This area's mental health service, Westbrook, has been intent on acquiring or building expensive high-profile buildings to provide their "public" services, indicating they must be competitive.

Despite claims, most mental health centers in the state will not provide service unless there is reimbursement.

Mental health decided in the early 1980s they should privatize, make money, no longer be public agencies, although under law they still are.

Ms. Rock languishing on the streets of Charleston, at risk, is only one example of the needy and most desperate unable to find services.

The mental health center's managers are quick to tell their employees, they cannot afford to provide non-reimbursed services.

Then comes managed care, the insurance industries model to "effectively provide care" so the insurance industry can make money, which more often than not, discounts mental illness or addiction as health problems of equal value to physical illnesses.

With the Bush administration continuing to cut social services to give tax breaks to the most wealthy, West Virginians will need to improve their skills at turning their heads.

But we're told, tax cuts trickle down and help folks like Ms. Rock.


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