Thousands potentially left without care as Minnesota mental health clinic group closes

By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 19:07 EDT
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'Woman Sitting On Therapists Couch' [Shutterstock] http://tinyurl.com/lhw2jo9
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The sudden shuttering of a group of Minnesota mental health facilities could leave up to 3,000 patients without care, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on Monday.

Riverwood Centers, which operated in five counties around the state, ceased operations on Monday, citing funding cuts. The clinics had offered both group therapy and individual services for its clients, many of whom were former psychiatric patients used the clinic as a resource to adjusting to life after completing their hospitalization.

“Sometimes I was in such bad shape that I couldn’t even talk a straight sentence,” one client, 64-year-old Bruce Echelberry, was quoted as saying. “I would get very suicidal. They were always there to help me through.”

Kevin Wojahn, Riverwood’s former executive director, told the Star-Tribune that the organization’s closing was brought about by a decrease in clients’ payments from their private insurance providers and a 15-year stall in public subsidies. The clinics, founded in 1964, became a primary source of care for many patients as the state moved to close more public mental health facilities.

KMSP-TV reported that Riverwood staff spent the day Monday trying to arrange new care options for their clients. All 75 employees lost their job as a result of the closing, after losing their health benefits last month.

“It’s the saddest thing possible because some of these kids, I’m the only consistent adult in their life,” family and child therapist Lori Lausen was quoted as saying. “Now I feel I’m being ripped away from them.”

Watch KMSP’s report on Riverwood’s closing, as aired on Monday, below.


[Image: "Woman Sitting On Therapists Couch Looking Down With Therapist Taking Notes" via Shutterstock]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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