I have spent my career trying to bring together various organizations and factions in a community that share a commitment to helping the mentally ill but don’t historically work together to accomplish that goal. A lot of money and effort is wasted when bureaucrats or community activists protect their fiefdoms at the expense of helping patients.
It’s hard to change that mentality, but well worth it.
When I began my career in Massachusetts, I worked at the Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center, a collaboration among the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. Together we built systems of care, research, and education—all to serve people with mental illness.
Later when I moved to Arizona as head of the UA Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, I reached out to the broader community to form coalitions. We were actually quite successful. We were able to create the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona. And eventually the University of Arizona and our physicians’ group practice partnered with Pima County to build and operate a brand-new psychiatric hospital.
Now that I’m in Pennsylvania, I am working with a wonderfully dedicated group to put strong legs under the fledgling Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute. I talked a little about it in my last blog.
Partnerships must be the future of medicine in this country. There’s too little money and too great a need to put personal power-building ahead of real progress in medical care for people in serious need.