Regional News in Review - May 2012

Metro Transit Central Corridor transit eyed

When the Central Corridor or Green Line light rail service begins in 2014, many Twin Cities bus routes will change to better serve riders. Metro Transit is reviewing and potentially altering up to 23 bus routes that travel through the Central Corridor area in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The intent of making route changes is to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of bus and rail service in the area and provide strong connections to new light-rail transit service on University Avenue.

Part of the outreach effort is through the Trusted Advocates program, led by the District Councils Collaborative. This program hires advocates to help underrepresented communities have a voice in the transit planning process. Kjensmo (pronounced “Chensmo”) Walker is representing the disability community and people who are heavily dependent on transit. He can be contacted at 952-215-5451 (voice or text) or email kjensmo@dcc-stpaul-mpls.org

In this project, Trusted Advocates will gain an understanding of transit service planning and work with the DCC and Metro Transit planners to develop an engagement toolkit to help advocates gather and document information and feedback from their communities.

The advocates will bring information from their communities to the transit planners and work directly with planners to ensure community voice is heard and their ideas are fully considered. They will help Metro Transit integrate community input into the final plan and communicate planning process and possible compromises to their communities.

Public involvement will help determine the future network of transit service in the Central Corridor Area. Please take a few moments to provide information about the trips you make most frequently, whether by transit or not. Using the travel data collected, initial service recommendations will be developed and presented for comment this spring (2012). Final changes will be implemented with the expected opening of new Green Line light-rail service in 2014.

Take the short survey at: www.snapsurveys.com/swh/surveylogin.asp?k=132871241744  Learn more about the study at: http://metrotransit.org/centraltransit-study.aspx  

 

Challenges continue since closing

When the Willmar Regional Treatment Center closed its doors in 2008, the plan was to have a collection of regional facilities and local services to meet the needs of adults with mental illness. But that plan hasn’t materialized, the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners was told. Commissioners recently heard a report on the continued gap in mental health care services for the “hard-to-serve” population that requires hospitalization as well as longer-term residential care.

Lack of appropriate and available care for clients with acute mental health needs is creating “major challenges” for all, said Kandiyohi County Family Services Supervisor Corrine Torkelson.

The only state-operated acute mental health hospital is in Anoka, where there’s a waiting list of 118. Karen Tusha-Molin, a county mental health social worker, told the story of a county client who since 2009 has continued to bounce from hospitals to step-down facilities and back again to hospitals through a series of court-ordered civil commitment procedures, suicidal actions, drug overdoses and insurance coverage that limits hospitalization.

Counties are “ramping up” efforts to bring mental health professionals into the jail to provide treatment, said Ann Stehn, who currently oversees the county’s public health and family services departments. “That’s not what our jails are intended to do,” she said, but there often is “no other place for them to go.”

Stehn said the deinstitutionalizing of Willmar Regional Treatment Center has had positive results for most of the former clients, including those with developmental disabilities that had previously been served there. But she said there is a persistent lack of beds for the small segment of the population with acute mental illness.

“At least the state is talking,” said Commissioner Harlan Madsen, adding that something needs to be done to fix the “gaping chasm” that is allowing people who “don’t fit into the mold” to fall through the cracks.  [Source: West Central Tribune]


Hockey players face different futures

Just over three months after a spinal cord injury in a hockey game left her legs temporarily paralyzed, Jenna Privette is not only playing softball but leading her St. Croix Lutheran team in hitting as the starting catcher. Meanwhile, Benilde-St. Margaret hockey player Jack Jablonski has left Sister Kenny Institute and gone home to continue his rehabilitation as an outpatient. Spinal cord injuries sustained by the youngsters drew attention to the dangers of hard hockey hits.

Privette’s injury has been described as a “spinal concussion.” Her paralysis was temporary and the Lakeville teen was able to return to school and sports this spring, after using a wheelchair and a walker. Her coaches and family report she has not had any major physical setbacks since joining the varsity team March 26 after being medically cleared by doctors

Privette was paralyzed from the waist down following a Jan. 6 on-ice incident in a game against the St. Paul Blades. At the time, her father said doctors described the injury as a spinal concussion.

Jablonski was paralyzed after his spinal cord was severed in a junior varsity game in December.

He went home in mid-April after more than three months’ physical therapy. He and his family are living in an apartment until accessibility improvements are made at their home.

Doctors warned he wouldn’t get much movement back but he was able to leave Sister Kenny without a neck brace. He told KARE 11 News, “I guess I’m stronger than I thought.”

Many of the medical staff gathered to tell the young man goodbye. His family said they will miss the people who have helped their son. “He’s just incredibly positive and you know, you see all the progress,” said Beth Gauthier, a registered nurse who worked with Jablonski.  [Sources: Pioneer Press, KARE 11]

 

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