Harvey, Illinois — In an effort to help address the stressed state-operated hospital system, UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital is partnering with the Illinois Department of Human Services to provide inpatient behavioral health care to individuals with nonviolent misdemeanor charges. 

Under the pilot program, which is unique to the Chicago area, Ingalls clinicians and staff will provide mental health treatment to these forensic patients, with the goal of improving their ability to understand the allegations against them and/or participate at their defense trial. The program will include only those adults with mental health issues who have been charged with nonviolent misdemeanors such as drug possession, trespassing or prostitution.

This effort aims to help IDHS preserve state-operated hospital inpatient beds for more complex and serious cases in which longer lengths of stay may be necessary. The pilot begins in early December and may grow to include as many as 12 of Ingalls Memorial’s existing behavioral health beds.

“Justice-involved individuals with serious mental illnesses deserve every chance at what we know is possible — recovery. And for those persons who receive care though this pilot program, their recovery will begin thanks to this collaboration,” said David Albert, PhD, Director, Division of Mental Health, Illinois Department of Human Services. “We are very excited to partner with UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital to deliver these vital services."

The program builds upon Harvey-based Ingalls Memorial’s 38-year history and experience of treating patients with mental and behavioral health disorders and taps its relationship with UChicago Medicine’s main campus in the South Side of Chicago, as IDHS seeks to deliver high-quality behavioral health therapy to court-ordered individuals in a safe environment.

As an increasing number of area hospitals and facilities are closing their behavioral health units, the program will help to deliver needed mental health treatment to those in need so they can be considered mentally fit to stand trial.

“It is unfortunate that those with serious mental illness often must begin their recovery through the criminal justice system. We will serve patients who may have engaged in non-violent crimes such as trespassing or petty theft while in the midst of a mental health crisis,” said Carolyn Shima, MD, Director of the Psychiatry and Law Program in UChicago Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, “This partnership will allow these patients to become well enough to engage meaningfully in their trials and resolve their charges in a humane environment. Our goal is to start them on the road to remaining in treatment and facilitate their recovery from mental illness.”


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