Letter to Commissioner Houston

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2006

To Commissioner John Houston, Alabama Department of Mental Health and

Mental Retardation:

Having recently learned that The Greater Mobile-Washington County Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, Inc. and The Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board of Bibb, Pickens and Tuscaloosa Counties, Inc. are proposing to merge, I am writing to express my concern.

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As a member of one of the governing bodies of this Black Belt Region in which so many communities are receiving – indeed, since 1967, have received – outstanding care and services from the Cahaba Center for Mental Health/Mental Retardation Center, I object strongly to this proposed merger for which I am unable to discern any reason. Since its opening Cahaba Center has continued to develop, to add new programs, to open group homes and to offer outpatient services unique to this area of our state, due in no small part to its awareness of and sensitivity to current needs.

I am also greatly concerned that the two agencies proposing the merger are not contiguous, which is certainly contrary to the concept of community care. And what of the sate government funds presently used to address the needs of the people served by Cahaba Center?

My strong objections arise also from the fact that, as president pro tem of the Selma City Council, I find this proposal contrary to the principle of local community development, which has been so successful. And, on a personal note, my elder son has experienced the excellent and professional treatment and care for which Cahaba Center has received recognition. Please investigate further this proposed merger, which in my opinion reeks of a power play.

Jean T. Martin

President pro tem, Selma City Council