The Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow, NJ continues to face deadly incidents and financial struggles. In September 2007, convicted killer, William Enman, left the facility unnoticed. He was found two days later on the grounds.

Another killer, named DeWitt Crandell Jr., disappeared on December 9, 2007. After his return he committed suicide while assigned with two guards.

On Wednesday, February 27th, patient Felicia DeBraux

, was sent to William B. Kessler Memorial Hospital in Hammonton, NJ where she died. The cause of her death is still unknown.

In the wake of these tragedies a legislative hearing took place last Thursday to review the issues facing Ancora.

According to the Department of Public Advocate, “The state should try to ease the crowding in its psychiatric hospitals by transferring some of their funding to community-care homes.”

Taxpayers spend $218,000 per New Jersey psychiatric-hospital patient a year instead of $8,700 per year for a residential-care resident, says Ronald K. Chen

Public Advocate.

Since half of the patients in the facilities like Ancora Psychiatric Hospital are ready to be discharged after a home is secured, residential care homes are ideal for most.

Calls are made daily to inquire about vacancies, says Bob Greco, president of the Association of Residential Care Homes. It’s a group that includes 47 of the 82 facilities in New Jersey. Twelve are in southern New Jersey, including 10 in Atlantic County.

However, the numbers of available housing have decreased to 82 homes, 62 fewer than in 2005. Government reimbursements aren’t matching cost-of-living increases, Greco said. Conditions are deteriorating in the open homes.

The department’s recommendation includes increasing the state subsidy for a residential care patient to $14,600 from the current $5,900. Then place enough additional psychiatric discharges in those facilities allowing hospitals to decrease capacity. Although, the outcome is up to the state’s Division of Mental Health Services, said Laurie Brewer, spokeswoman for the advocate.

“It is not clear whether the state will discuss the possibility of implementing the advocate’s proposal.”

According to Greco, “The proposal finally recognizes how residential health care has been neglected for many years. The people that it serves have been neglected by the state….It’s a great start, unfortunately, that has come late. There’s been much, much loss, and the industry has a lot to recover from.”



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