Letter: A step in the right direction on mental illness in Kane County

To the editor:

Two years ago, Fox River Valley Initiative (FRVI) leader Ann Alexander stood a few feet from Richard Roehr, and pointing a delicate finger at him asked,”What are you going to do to get a Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) built on the AMITA campus in Aurora?”

Roehr, the then brand-new CEO of AMITA Health Mercy Medical Center Aurora, recounted that story on June 21, in front of over 100 guests and dignitaries, as AMITA broke ground on a $3 million construction project to bring the FRVI’s vision of a statewide network of CSUs to fruition.

Since its inception ten years ago, the FRVI (a Metro Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate) has worked ceaselessly to decriminalize mental illness and substance disorders. Because of its championing of Critical Incident Team (CIT) training for law enforcement, working to develop relationships with health care facilities to build CSUs, and lobbying (and getting) Gov. J. B. Pritzker to increase the daily Medicaid Reimbursement rate 10-fold, the FRVI was recognized at the event as one of the important Kane County organizations that prioritize and serve mental health needs, especially among the disenfranchised in Kane County.

The CSU at AMITA, the first of its kind in Kane County, represents a major victory for the FRVI and the 21 institutions and tens of thousands of members it represents, as well as for the citizens of Aurora and the surrounding municipalities who will soon benefit from its state-of-the-art construction.

At the dais, facing local officials, funders and mental health professionals,and surrounded by ten gold painted hammers representing the work to begin at AMITA, Roehr made certain to include Ann Alexander and the FRVI in the celebration, recognizing them for their critical role in what will become a stepping stone to the development of better care for those suffering the effects of mental illness throughout Kane County.

Ed Manning

Geneva