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Supporters to rally  for Beverly clinic

Others in the bull’s eye

Mental health clinics also targeted for closing are: Auburn Gresham, 1140 W. 79th St.; Back of the Yards, 4313 S. Ashland Ave.; Northtown Rogers Park, 1607 W. Howard St.; Northwest, 2354 N. Milwaukee Ave.; and Woodlawn, 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave. Including Beverly Morgan Park, four of the six are on the South Side.

Updated: December 15, 2011 9:49AM



Margaret Sullivan had it all figured out. She knew just how she was going to kill herself.

She planned to wear shorts and a top, climb into a warm tub of water, take a handful of pills, and wait to slowly slip away. And if the pills didn’t work, she’d plan to drown herself, she said.

Thankfully, Sullivan’s plan in 2003 never reached fruition.

“I had a plan and a backup plan in place. I knew what I was going to wear and where I was going to do it,” the 58-year-old Sullivan said. “A friend of mine found this clinic, which I could afford at the time at only $5 a week. And that clinic kept me alive.”

Sullivan, of Chicago’s Beverly community, found help at the Beverly Morgan Park Mental Health Clinic, 1987 W. 111th St. There, she received the counseling and medication she needed to pull herself away from the doorstep of death.

Sullivan will be at the clinic Monday with others who want to keep its doors open. The clinic is one of six the Chicago Department of Health has targeted for closing as part of a cost-cutting move.

A protest against the closing is slated to start at 3 p.m. outside the clinic, and another is scheduled outside the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington Blvd., near city hall at noon Tuesday.

Officials estimate Chicago can save about $3.3 million annually by closing the six clinics. But Sullivan is worried about social costs.

She and other supporters are worried that the mentally ill denied access to a clinic in the 19th Ward will fall through the cracks. Some may not be as fortunate as she was and may end up taking their lives. Others may turn to crime, she said.

Under the city’s plan, the two mental health clinics nearest to the 19th Ward would be Roseland, 200 E. Fifth St., and Greater Lawn Mental Health Center, 4150 W. 55th St. If you don’t have a car, it could take several bus routes to get to either, Sullivan said.

Efrat Stein, a health department spokeswoman, said in a statement: “The most important part of this proposal is to enhance services to patients. This facility will be consolidated, all patients will have the option of visiting one of the remaining facilities or transition to a community mental health center.”

The Beverly Area Planning Association, with offices on the second floor above the clinic, opposes the closing, executive director Matt Walsh said.

“These are our most vulnerable citizens and they need these services to live their day-to-day lives. You can’t balance the budget on their backs,” Walsh said. “The residual effects of this could be dramatic.”

Sullivan agreed.

“The medicine works for a while, but you also need the counseling,” she said. “The two things, together, they take a lot of time to work.”



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