Behavioral Health is at Risk from Question 1

Behavioral beds will close if Question 1 passes and there are not enough RNs available to fulfill the staffing mandates contained in the ballot question. Those were the conclusions voiced by behavioral health experts at a media event held last Thursday at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton.

But a more disturbing fact that the experts voiced focused on how patients at risk would be affected by the massive disruption to the behavioral health system.

Michael Botticelli, executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, said while the state has made the effort to expand treatment services, it has faced difficulty in finding nurses to fill needed posts within those services.

As a result, Botticelli said, “Question 1 could have significant consequences  in creating longer waiting lists for treatment, fewer admissions for people seeking treatment and most consequently program closures … We know that given the significant overdose risk for people in the commonwealth that we will only exacerbate our overdose death problem.”

Botticelli served as Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House under President Obama.

Aimee Carew-Lyons, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Nursing Officer at Franciscan, said Question 1 would most likely result in the closure of one-third of the facility’s beds, thereby denying treatment for hundreds of at-risk kids.

Also decrying Question 1 were Vic DiGravio, President & CEO, Association for Behavioral Health; Barbara Green, Medical Director, Youth Health Connection, and  Co-Founder, Center for Integrative Counseling & Wellness; and Joanne Grady-Savard, Executive Director, Cole Resource Center.