Drop-In Center Not Being Dropped

Despite many recent rumors to the contrary, Governor Linda Lingle said that there are no plans to eliminate Molokai’s mental health drop-in center. Lingle’s letter was written in response to a letter sent to her by Senators Kalani English,Rosalyn Baker and Shan Tsutsui.

In Lingle’s letter she writes that rumors may have started because two of the center’s employees left for unrelated reasons. The text from both letters is posted below.

The Senators’ Letter:

Dear Governor Lingle:

This letter concerns the planned closure of the Moloka’i Clubhouse, effective December 31, 2009. On behalf of our constituents on Maui, we respectfully request that the Moloka’i Clubhouse remain open.

The closure of Moloka’i Clubhouse is a huge disappointment to its members and is a traumatic loss for each of them. According to the Department of Health, a Clubhouse is a unique, voluntary, member-driven psychosocial rehabilitation program for adults who experience the challenges of mental illness. Within a supportive environment, program members are offered a multitude of services to improve the quality of their lives through meaningful work, positive relationships, and gainful employment.

Members can build on their strengths and abilities to acquire or improve skills needed to reach their individual goals and aspirations. The various clubhouses around the State were formed with the intent to provide a gathering place for members who find solace and understanding with people who know them and can help them. For many, the clubhouse is an important therapeutic protocol. Clubhouses are a source of hope: they offer people with mental illness opportunities to reach their full potential. A clubhouse is a prime example of community-based mental health services without the stigma commonly attached to such treatments, and is an alternative to costly institutionalization.

In addition, Moloka’i Clubhouse members have developed a rapport with the counselors and staff. They have asked who will replace the only support they have in their daily struggle to recover from mental disease. Without “Joe” and his staff of two, they say they have nothing. Joe and staff provide counseling, group outings, and support to reintegrate members into the community and a healthy life style. Together they learn from one another, teach each other, and support one another in a healthy, positive, and safe environment.

The Adult Mental Health Division provides staff funding for the Moloka’i Clubhouse. The Metro Honolulu Rotary Club generously provided funding last year for the cost of renovations in the amount exceeding $100,000 to make the facility safe and functional. It would be a wasted community effort to close the Moloka’i Clubhouse. Therefore, we respectfully urge you to release the funding for staff positions at the Moloka’i Clubhouse.

J. Kalani English
Rosalyn Baker
Shan S. Tsutsui

Lingle’s Response:

Dear Senators Baker, English and Tsutsui:

Thank you for your letter dated December 29, 2009, with your concerns related to the alleged closure of the Moloka’i Clubhouse/drop-in center. At no time was there a plan or intent for the Department of Health Adult Mental Health Division (AMHD) to close the Maui Community Mental Health Center’s (CMHC) Moloka’i Clubhouse drop-in program.

In a review of your letter, it is likely that misinformation may have caused some members of the community to incorrectly conclude that the program was to be closed. It appears that in the wake of the Reduction In Force (RIF) process, in which one position from the Maui CMHC was affected, and in the subsequent but unrelated resignation of two other staff from that clinic, interested stakeholders and consumers may have perceived our interim contingency planning to indicate the imminent closure of program services.

The Maui CMHC, due to the above described manpower shortage on Molokai Island, did initiate a plan for temporarily supporting the Molokai program with staff from Maui Island until current Molokai staff positions could be extended andlor recruited and filled. As part of that contingency plan, there was the possibility of a modified program schedule being implemented, if necessary. However, the Molokai staff position in question was extended prior to the “not to exceed date,” and the incumbent has remained in his position. This has allowed the Maui CMHC to maintain the regular schedule for the Molokai clubhouse drop-in service. The Maui CMHC is maintaining the added support from Maui Island while further recruitment and filling of positions proceeds, on Molokai.

This Administration shares your concerns regarding the value and importance of mental health services provided by our CMHCs across the State to those who suffer from severe and persistent mental illnesses. We will continue to focus on providing core mental health services to our consumers with the resources available to us.



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