Date:June 2, 3, 9, July 21, Aug. 25, Oct. 6, 9, Nov. 3, Dec. 15, 2013
The investigation explored why mental health care in Milwaukee County is especially ineffective. We found that Milwaukee politicians for decades have ignored calls for reform, clinging to an outdated system that preserves union jobs at the expense of better care. Milwaukee has the most lopsided system in the country, spending more on emergency and in-patient care than any other. Doctors are bound by the strictest time constraints in the country, allowing them 24 hours to observe patients considered dangerous, even in cases when patients are unconscious from suicide attempts. Our data analysis found people returning for care at an alarming rate. One woman had been seen 196 times in six years, an average of once every 11 days. One man had been brought in by police 10 times in one month. A big part of this project was not just to show the problem but to identify ways that Milwaukee County could improve. This required us to travel to other cities — including Geel, Belgium — to look at communities that do a better job.