LANSING — State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) joined the legislators from the bipartisan Northern Legislative Caucus today to call for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to replace the current psychiatric hospital in Caro with one located north of Clare County. The realization by DHHS officials that the psychiatric hospital in Caro is in need of significant rebuilding has led to discussion of a new hospital being built and located closer to the northern and Upper Peninsula communities it serves.
“Family members who need to find care for a loved one, or law enforcement officers who need to transport a person for psychiatric help, now have to drive nine hours to reach the closest facility, which is in Caro, and that is a hardship that needs to be addressed,” said Dianda. “We have to care for people who need psychiatric care, and the cost of taking these folks to Caro is born by families, or by local governments who do not see their travel costs reimbursed by the state. Moving the hospital north of Clare County would cut down on travel time by at least four hours and would make it easier for families to visit their loved ones. I hope we can convince state officials to support DHHS in their request for a new hospital located closer to our northern and U.P. communities.”
Among the arguments for moving the facility are:
- There is evidence of a significantly higher rate of suicides in Northern Michigan as compared to the rest of the state. This highlights a serious problem and shatters the misconception that suicides are only a problem in big cities and other major population centers.
- Access to DHHS state psychiatric hospitals for Northern Michiganders is abysmal. The Caro facility is remote in this sense.
- There is a strong case for rebuilding this facility in Northern Michigan. The inequality of access to these facilities across the state is severe. Once again, Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula appear to have been forgotten.
Dianda said that the legislators have asked to meet with the governor and the director of DHHS to discuss their effort. The public is encouraged to contact DHHS, their state respective representative and the governor to voice their support for the effort.