Augusta Rally Day Two 

For the second day in a row, hundreds packed the state house to protest Governor Baldacci’s proposed budget cuts.This time around mental health spending was in the spotlight.A mentally ill patient is brought to the emergency room because there’s nowhere else to go.Someone with behavioral issues is sent to jail.Scenarios that play out when community crisis programs are limited as they are now due to a shrinking state budget.Over the past two years mental heath services have been reduced by nearly 50-million dollars with an addition 91-million on the line for the next two years.Penobscot County Sheriff glenn ross estimates that 30-percent of his inmates are on psychotropic drugs. “When I ran for Sheriff I thought I would be out in the field doing public safety rather than being a mental health worker in the jail.”He used to joke he ran the largest state mental health institution. “Today I quit laughing about that because it is true. The impact of these cuts in the past have already been felt in our public safety. I cannot begin to imagine what these future cuts are going to mean to us.” Doctors, the mentally ill, and their advocates brought those arguments to Augusta Wednesday.Maine General E.R. physician Dr. Harry Gimmnitz says hospitals have become the safety net when funding is cut from community programs. “What happens is a number of people start to crash and burn and end up in crisis, end up requiring the use of crisis stabilization services, lengthening E.R. stays and for many in-patient hospital stays.” All of which Dr. Gimmnitz says are costly and far less effective than outpatient community service programs.What some say are just shifts in costs that don’t amount to any savings.