Advocate posing as homeless man exposes desperate conditions at psychiatric residence

Bob Davidson of MHA Essex exposed irregularites at Dover Woods residence

Families with loved ones in state psychiatric hospitals fret about what happens to their loved ones after discharge. Shrinking state budgets and the current community-based recovery philosophy is pressuring state hospitals to release their residents sooner. But where do they go?

For many, the next stop is a community-based residence or boarding house. In Tom’s River, New Jersey, one such place, licensed by the State of New Jersey, is Dover Woods Health Care Center. But how is the quality of care for residents with psychiatric disabilities? Mental health advocate Bob Davidson, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Essex County [NJ], went undercover to find out. His account was recently reported on NJ.com. Excerpt:

What disturbed Bob Davison the most was the constant screaming.

For about 51 hours late last month, the director of the Mental Health Association of Essex County posed as a homeless man inside Dover Woods, a state-licensed residential health care facility in Toms River [NJ] that is often home for patients discharged from psychiatric hospitals.

He checked in on a Thursday morning and came out on a Saturday afternoon, carrying with him a journal he kept describing dangerous conditions and relentless chaos.

In just two nights, Davison said, he broke up a fight, turned down oral sex for money from a hallucinating woman, and tried to sleep on a bed with a busted spring and no blanket.

Davidson’s experience lifts the veil on long-standing, yet long-unreported. problems with housing for those discharged from New Jersey’s psychiatric hospitals. His story deserves a careful reading by all families in the maelstrom, who need to make their concerns heard. View the entire article here.

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