One aspect of the novel is a weekly's publication of a special report on a psych center's reduction of its population. Below is a fictional straight news story by one of the characters:
Excerpt from a story by Holston:
“Demands mount at Crisis Center - last resort for help”
By Reginald Holston
Courier special correspondent
When life falls apart for a mental patient, or the system does, the last resort is often the Crisis Center.
Anyone spinning in the whirlpool of a mental crisis - those who are suicidal, in extreme depression, with a psychosis erupting, or suffering extreme anxiety -- may show up at the agency’s doorstep.
By its formal name, it is called Emergency Mental Health Services, located at Oquaga General Hospital. Its other nickname is EMHS.
“We are the key entry point for the unattended patient,’ said Dr. Pierre Dejardin, the center’s director. “We see the same patients over and over again, know their names when they come through the door.”
Some are violent, some are so injured its hard to tell where the mental illness begins and the injury ends, and others have illnesses that need medical intervention. It’s up to Dejardin and his staff to “deal with it,” he said.
Last year, more than 3,000 patients arrived at the center and almost half of these needed inpatient care, according to the agency, which is part of the state’s mental health system. And though he and his staff are state employees, they are sharply critical of the state’s policy on deinstitutionalization.
“We have 21 beds on the fifth floor of Oquaga General,” Dejardin said. “We have to try to send some back to the very institution that put them out on the streets to handle the overflow. Does that make sense?”
Further, he said, with the state policy accelerating, the already overwhelming situation is getting worse ....