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Delaware mental health services in "substantial compliance," says new report

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media
A new walk-in crisis center opened in Newark earlier this year.


A court monitor is weighing in again on Delaware’s work to improve mental health care after being flagged for warehousing of individuals with mental illness at the Delaware Psychiatric Center.

The latest report stemming from a 2011 settlement between Delaware and the U.S. Department of Justice over inhumane treatment of individuals living with mental illness in the First State is out.

The report starts out on a positive note: detailing the road to recovery for three Delawareans.


Robert Bernstein is the court monitor for the case, and told Delaware Public Media in May that during the over five-year process, he’s been meeting regularly with individuals living with mental illness.


"People will describe their personal stories of having been in the hospital, sometimes for years, having been homeless sort of living on the street from moment to moment and day to day and now they’re living in their own apartments: a place they call not only home but their home," Bernstein said.


Bernstein is waiting until the parties involved and court respond to his latest report to offer comment on it.


This is also the first report indicating the state is in “substantial compliance” with all areas of assessment - including crisis stabilization and discharge planning.


The last report in May found most categories “moving towards substantial compliance.”

But Landgraf says there’s still room for improvement, including in crisis care.

The state opened a new walk-in crisis stabilization facility in Newark in August, but data from a similar facility in Ellendale in June showed nearly 75 percent of patients coming there were referred from a hospital emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation.


“Sometimes family members will bring them to the emergency department," Landgraf said. "So I think on our side of it, is to continue to do that level of outreach so people know that the walk in centers are available for this assessment.”


Crisis stabilization was reported as being in partial compliance last December, moving towards substantial compliance in May and as of Monday, in substantial compliance.

Landgraf adds she believes work to upgrade the state’s community based mental health system will help it avoid a repeat of past issues.

"This made a pretty solid foundation for us to better support individuals with serious and persistent mental illness in a community system of care," Landgraf said.


The federal court will determine if the First State has fulfilled the terms of the settlement agreement after it reviews this most recent report.


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