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Is The Mass. Mental Health Care System Doing Enough?

The group home at 181 Broadway St. in Somerville, where Malissie Holloway was found dead (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The group home at 181 Broadway St. in Somerville, where Malissie Holloway was found dead (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Malissie Holloway was only 24 when she was found dead, hanging from a pipe in her closet.

Holloway suffered from debilitating mental illness and was living in a Somerville community based mental health facility.

Her family began asking questions. The group home was supposed to a safe place, one with support and ongoing supervision, yet the staff was admonished for not seeing her for two days before her body was discovered.

The Somerville group home is part of Massachusetts’ Community Health System — specifically, a relatively new program called Community Based Flexible Supports, or CBFS.

As part of a special investigative report, WBUR and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting looked into CBFS, which provides treatment and support to over 29,000 individuals.



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  • Call_Me_Missouri

    Why are mental heath staff/consumer levels not dictated by the same laws hospitals have to follow as it pertains to nursing staffing levels?

    I’m not seeing the difference between care for a patient and care for a patient…

  • Croesor

    This program, while welcome, only scratched the surface of the problems with CBFS services. However, the heart of the matter was alluded to: it is woefully under-funded, and the staff who are employed by these vendors to the state are well meaning but under paid and not well trained. As the state prepares to down-size Taunton State Hospital, and “replace” those beds with the highly touted, but already troubled, Worcester Recovery Center, CBFS remains a scare and hard-to-access community resource. The result? Mentally ill people languishing in ERs, jails, and getting inadequate treatment in their communities. I do not agree with Marsha Fowler that the Patrick administration has devoted itself to improving services for this disenfranchised population.

  • phb

    Today’s show ended  talking about Police receiving more training to deal with mental health clients in trouble.  Yesterday the show talked about staff at group homes only being required to have a GED to obtain employment.  The budgets for these homes should afford masters level + clinicians who have received the formal education (training) to deal with the clients. 
     As a society we have said it is OK to cut social service budgets, we accept the lack of staffing and training at these homes.  Your story supports the politics,  saying the fall back is training for police, not a more educated staff or thoughtful, effective policies and programs.

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