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Social workers protest closing of mental facility
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
24/04/2012
Abarbanel state psychiatric hospital has closed a hostel for patients in final stages of rehabilitation.
 
The Abarbanel state psychiatric hospital has closed a hostel in Jaffa where recovering patients have been staying for the final stages of their rehabilitation.

Tel Aviv University School of Social Work students and lecturers involved in the fight to get the facility reopened said the Health Ministry had given only the excuse that the hostel was in poor physical condition.

The students said Tuesday they feared that the ministry was primarily interested in selling the property because of its high real estate value.

The ministry issued a statement that the “Jaffa hostel is a dangerous structure, thus the residents had to be evacuated in an unplanned way. Ten residents remain there. One is going to independent housing, while the others are going to protected housing facilities, each according to his needs, on May 1.”

But the protesters from the Shapell School of Social Work said the facility, which has existed for over 25 years, has been a solution for the transition period of recovering psychiatric patients, including people who were homeless or suicidal, or who were hospitalized and needed social support and professional guidance before returning to the community.

Abarbanel owns the building. Almost a year ago, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal engineer said it needed renovation, but that this could be done while residents were living there. Although residents signed a new rental contract last February that would be in effect until March 2013, the management decided to evacuate the building with no commitment to reopen it, the activists said.

They added that moving residents out against their will and sending them elsewhere would hurt their rehabilitation.

Dr. Amir Fuchs-Paz of TAU’s law clinic wrote to hospital director Dr. Yehuda Baruch, saying the activists had learned that management wanted to send the residents away and did not intend to let them return after renovations.

Fuchs-Paz said he had been told that “the renovations will take a long time.”

The activists said they had been told that professionals working with the recovering patients were being dismissed.

The TAU lawyer filed a plea in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for an urgent order, in the name of residents, to prevent their eviction.

Joining the activists in supporting this cause was Prof. Idit Weiss-Gal, head of the bachelor’s degree program for social workers, the voluntary organization Yedid and a social work organization.
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