In a letter sent to The Press Democrat (to be published on Wednesday), San Francisco Controller Ed Harrington takes Sonoma County to task for its care of people with mental health needs. (Harrington is responding to a story last week about Memorial Hospital’s decision to close the county’s last inpatient psychiatric unit. This followed a similar decision by the county to shut down its inpatient psychiatric services program last summer.)

“And these articles say this will be unfair to patients and their families because they will have to travel to other counties, like San Francisco, to have their health care needs met.” Harrington wrote, “And I agree. But what makes you think this is fair to the taxpayers of San Francisco?”

He continues,”What makes folks in Sonoma County think San Francisco makes money on serving people with mental health care needs? Of course we don’t–we spend millions of dollars of local money on mental health care every year. We just happen to believe it is our responsibility to take care of our family members, friends and neighbors who are in need. We make the tough decisions to raise local taxes to pay these bills and we get a lot of grief for it.”

Harrington ends the letter by encouraging readers to “Tell your Board of Supervisors that it is not OK to dump your mental health patients on other counties where we apparently care more than you do about taking care of the needs of your own people.”

To read the entire letter, look for it on Page B7 in Wednesday’s edition.

– Paul Gullixson