TR-B Recorder article 9-24-19

Tim Ranney-Blake, of Deerfield, said from his experience with depression and substance abuse, he knows how difficult it would be for patients working towards recovery to do so when separated from their community, at a rally held by the Massachusetts Nurses Association in Holyoke.  STAFF PHOTO/MELINA BOURDEAU

Staff Writer
Published: 9/23/2019 11:10:38 PM

HOLYOKE – Over 40 people gathered to protest Baystate Health’s closure plan at the former site of the Holyoke Geriatric Authority building, purchased by Baystate and US HealthVest to build a for-profit mental health facility…

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Tim Ranney-Blake, of South Deerfield, spoke about his experience as a previous patient from the mental health unit at Baystate Franklin.

He said he received the support he needed which is why he advocates for others to have access to the same treatment.

“I am not going to step back,” said Ranney-Blake. “I am going to step forward and I am going to keep telling Baystate: end this partnership now. End it now. It’ll be so much easier for you if you do. In order to keep it quality, it’s got to be local and accessible.”

He said as a member of the recovery community, he knows there are people who don’t have transportation, which poses another problem.

“You’re not going to get somebody from up there down here and back in a day,” said Ranney-Blake. “Hear me and help me to say stop this partnership now.”

Charlemont resident Sarah Ahern said she is a woman who has survived traumas that have labeled her with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression and anxiety. Many times, Ahern said she needed inpatient care to help her manage her symptoms.

“Imagine having to navigate a broken system, involuntarily spending multiple days in an ER and sent to treatment three hours away,” Ahern said. “Now you’re beginning to understand my story.”

Ahern said she was comforted by people who knew her and who were looking out for her, and that she was sharing her story for those who do not have the resiliency that she had.

“We are not second class citizens,” Ahern said. “To move our mental health care to a for-profit setting would block access to our most vulnerable who may need it, by not taking insurance many of us have.”