Milwaukee County’s Mental Health Complex features a short-term inpatient psychiatric facility that seeks to help those with serious mental health issues — including survivors of trauma and sexual abuse — get better. Patients stay an average of 11.5 days while at the facility and more than 90 percent of them are discharged back to their own care or home.
By far, most people who are admitted to the facility carry a diagnosis within the “psychoses” category of diagnoses — which usually means schizophrenia or a related disorder. Over one-third of their patients are under 19 years old — teens and children. About half the patients they treat are men, the other half women.
More than half the people who seek out treatment at a facility like this will have their tab picked up by taxpayers like you and I, because their bill will be paid by Medicare or Medicaid.
The Complex sports four inpatient wards. But the Complex has a bit of a problem. Instead of segregating men from women on the wards — which is common practice in many other inpatient psychiatric facilities — Milwaukee County has co-ed wards. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. If this were a college. But it’s not a college, it’s an acute inpatient treatment facility.
So when violence strikes the wards, what do they do?