Erie Shore Network at risk

Mental health advocates say agency may be wiped out by bill
Tom Jackson
May 12, 2014

 

Terri Krick, of Sandusky, says Erie Shore Network Inc., a local mental health agency, has provided vital support to her struggle with bipolar disorder.

“It serves as a home base for questions I may have” she said. “It lets me know I’m not alone when I’m not feeling well”

Mary Day, another client at Erie Shore, says the agency is helpful when she’s depressed.

“Brenda always has an open ear for anybody who needs to talk,” she said, referring to the agency’s executive director, Brenda Baum.

But Baum and her patients say they are worried the agency won’t be around much longer. They said they’re fighting the provisions of a House bill, backed by the Kasich administration, which would end funding for their agency and similar agencies and direct the funds be used for treatment of opiate addiction.

Erie Shore Network, which describes itself as a nonprofit, consumer-run mental health agency, has existed for 20 years and has an annual budget of about $120,000, which it gets through funding from the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties.

Located at 326 E. Market St. in downtown Sandusky, Erie Shore provides a clubhouse atmosphere for clients, who are given help with making difficult calls, completing documents or applying for help with various agencies.

Baum and supporters of Erie Shore, such as Kirk Halliday, executive director of the local Mental Health and Recovery Board,said the agency’s existence is threatened by House Bill 369, which seeks to fund treatment for people with opioid addictions.

The bill’s author, Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, says the measure would require every county to have a full program for helping people with opioid addictions, including providing treatment and housing.

Funding to help the addicts comes from taking away funding for local mental health programs, and taking decisions out of the hands of local officials, Baum and Halliday said. 

Baum said she questions which mental health patients are being singled out for budget cuts. “It’s no different from pulling from Cancer Services to give to the drug addicts,” she said.

House Bill 369 passed the House 71-20 on April 9 and has gone to the Senate, where the measure is before the Senate Finance Committee. Its provisions have been folded into House Bill 483, which the Senate Finance Committee is holding hearings on, a Senate aide said Wednesday.

State Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island; state Rep. Terry Boose, R-Norwalk, and state Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, all joined the House majority in voting for the bill on April 9.

Redfern said Wednesday that although he has heard recently from Halliday about the bill, nobody contacted him before that vote to express any concerns. He said as of Wednesday morning, he had not heard from anybody from Erie Shore Network.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the intent of the legislation to zero out funding for mental health services,” Redfern said.

He said he expects the measure to return to the House and promised he’ll vote “No” this time unless concerns about mental health funding are addressed. He said he’s also contacted state Sen. Randy Gardner, Bowling Green.

Like Redfern, Gardner represents Erie and Ottawa counties. He also sits on the Senate Finance Committee.

Gardner said that while there is a lot of concern about dealing with drug abuse, he supports mental health programs.

“There hasn’t even been one hearing yet in the Senate, so there’s time to receive a lot of input from constituents, and to ask questions in the finance committee,” he said. “I will certainly listen carefully to the concerns and arguments made by any constituents on this issue”

Erie Shore supporters plan to take a bus trip to Columbus Tuesday to lobby lawmakers to save the agency.

Comments

YouMustBeJoking

This was posted a couple days ago in regards to 31 local agencies receiving grants.

Congratulations to everyone that's on the list. I am pleased to see that Erie Shore Network, is NOT on the list. Ever since the founder/director left, that place has gone down hill tremendously. All they've done for the last couple of years is suck up all the grants and donations that should have went to other organizations that help many more people, much more significantly. I was also recently informed that all funding that Erie Shore had been receiving, has either already been taken away or will cease by 2015. Hopefully that funding will go to an organization, thats sole purpose is to help the people with mental health and drug abuse issues, instead of being wasted as it is now. To everyone on the list, keep up the good work, your hard work and dedication, is greatly appreciated.

msbrendabaum

My name is Brenda Baum. I am the Executive Director of Erie Shore Network, Inc. Thank you to the Sandusky Register for bringing attention to this issue. There are a few things I'd like to clarify. First of all, our core service is Peer Support, including Support Groups, Education, Socialization, and Advocacy. The services listed in the article are just a few of our additional services offered in the wide array of assistance provided to our members. Secondly, Erie Shore Network supports all persons suffering with mental health issues, including mental illness and drug/alcohol addiction. We feel that this new redirection of funding is a "Rob Peter to pay Paul" type of situation. It isn't in the best interest of all for the funds to be taken from one to save another. I believe that local boards know best what the needs of their community are and should have the power to direct the funds accordingly.

KnuckleDragger

LOL. Terri Krick? There is a perfect example of Erie Shores not only failing to help someone but enabling them. I find it a poor example to use an alcoholic, drug addicted woman who allows her underage daughter to throw alcohol/drug/sex parties at her house while she spends the day in a bar drinking (You all remember the article on here not to long ago of the underage party in Sandusky that was busted? That was her daughter). Over the years not only has Erie Shores not really helped her get sober, they have went out of their way to support and enable her to the point of putting her daughter back in the home with her. Now her daughter is being messed up because of it.

YouMustBeJoking

Erie Shore Networking is a joke. Ever since Betty Marshal the founder, and former director was FORCED out of there, the place has declined, considerably. This msbrendabaum, does not care about the "clients", she is only worried about the money. Also msbrendabaum, be careful for what you wish for, this very article that the Sandusky Register brought to our attention, could be the can worms getting opened about the way your beloved Erie Shore Network, has failed many more than it has helped in the field of mental health. The problem is that there are many many more negatives when it comes to Erie Shore, than there are positive in regards to mental health. These people with mental health issues, need and quite frankly deserve, more than just lunch at Wendy's or game night once a week. There are lots of people that not only have mental health issues but also dependency issues. And you hate drug/alcohol addicts, am I correct? People with mental illness and dependency issues need help and attention, not just a band-aid. I applaud Mr Kasich for realizing all of these flaws and for actively fighting for whats right, A solution. People with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as those suffering from a mental illness, need PROFESSIONAL help, Erie Shore Network is anything but...

SamAdams

Why do we even NEED places like this? It's my understanding that Obamacare covers mental health care for one and all. Oh, it's still on the taxpayer's dime, but it's covered! No need for any more places like this one! Right???