For Immediate Release Contact: Jamie Lucas
April 1, 2016 720-621-3689
MILWAUKEE, WI--Nurses, community leaders, and mental health advocates have joined together to demand that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele stop playing politics with fragile lives. In spite of a gag order placed on all County employees by Abele, the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP) and the mental health community are calling on the County Executive to release critical information requested by a County Auditor in order to conduct a standard review of safety conditions at the County-operated Behavioral Health Division (BHD). Public officials have also expressed outrage that the secretive actions of the Abele administration have caused the safety review to be suspended.
Jeff Weber, RN, President of the Milwaukee County Chapter of WFNHP, said, "We make this simple demand for cooperation on behalf of our members and mental health consumers. Everyone deserves safe, quality mental health care."
County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb stated, "This purposeful delay and attempts to hide informantion...suggest a possible cover-up of incidents where patient or employee safety and health has been jeopardized."
In a memo to the County Executive and members of the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board, County Auditor Jerry Heer remarked that in his office's combined 70 years of experience, they "have never had a problem." He continued, "In the past, efforts to block audit access has indicated underlying problems. This may, or may not, be the issue in this instance. In the absence of an audit, we may never know."
Candice Owley, RN, President of WFNHP, pronounced, "It is shocking and despicable that Chris Abele has silenced our nurses and therapists at BHD. We know Abele has chosen to exercise unilateral power at the expense of others, but what he is doing to the mental health community is outrageous and dangerous. Real people are suffering."
"It's time for the veil of secrecy to be lifted. We've had nothing but lies from the Abele administration," said Julie Meyer, concerned neighbor, taxpayer, and advocate for mental health.
Former State Representative, psychiatric nurse, and longtime mental health advocate Sandy Pasch added, "People receiving mental health services should expect a well-staffed, caring and respectful environment that promotes recovery. The audit should, ideally, reflect this. I sincerely hope that Mr. Abele's poitical ambition is not trumping the well-being of consumers."
The Abele administration plans to next discuss this issue on April 7th. Abele is up for re-election on April 5th. The lives of mental health patients and professionals deserve immediate action.