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Chicago Birthday Party Crashed: Protesters Slam Rahm Emanuel's Mental Health Cuts

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First Posted: 03/ 5/2012 10:28 am Updated: 03/ 5/2012 10:47 am

Some party crashers showed up at Chicago's 175th birthday celebration Sunday, decrying Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to close six mental health clinics citywide.

The party was held at the Chicago History Museum, where there was cake, a performance by the Chicago Children's Choir and a panel discussion featuring actors dressed as historical Chicago figures.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the protesters shouted "history will judge" as Emanuel stood near a Chicago birthday cake with children.

Emanuel's budget called for the city's 12 mental health clinics to be consolidated into six, which would force several hundred patients to relocate. A report by the Mental Health Movement claimed that 2,549 patients would be impacted by the closures, but the mayor's office said that figure is closer to 700.

"My therapist is like part of my family," Florencia Cano, a patient at Northwest Mental Health Clinic slated for closure, said in a Chicago Mental Health Movement report. "It's important for me that this clinic does not close. This is my neighborhood. Sending people to other neighborhoods is going to be very difficult."

The city says its plan to consolidate its mental health services will lead to better or equal quality of care for patients.

According to NBC Chicago, Emanuel quickly left the room when protesters entered Sunday "looking mildly insulted."

The Mayor's office later issued a statement, according to the Sun-Times, on the mental health reforms:

"The reforms allow the city to deliver better services at a lower cost while maintaining a high level of care for uninsured patents and those most in need within their own neighborhoods and communities. The city will continue to serve 80 percent of current clients while expanding relationships with community mental health providers to ensure a smooth transition and expanded services for those in need.”

Protesters say Emanuel's plan will destroy relationships between patients and therapists, and worry that some residents will not leave their neighborhoods to get medications or care they need.

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Filed by Jen Sabella  |