Its time to get help, now what ?

acollier-article21Something is very wrong (again) Mom, the voices are telling me to do terrible things, and I really don’t know where I am at. I just want to die, its so frightening. (He has already overdosed medications and rushed to hospital twice from group homes, so he is at parents home, waiting for months for his new case manager to place him in a decent group home…)

What’s wrong, son ? Why did you just throw up ? My head hurts so bad, its another migraine. The voices are terrorizing me, and raping me.

Hold on son, we will call for help. We call SAMHC, at 520-622-6000, a newbie operator this time… (a part timer who is also a case manager for La Frontera, no less)

She says to take our son in to the ER ourselves, but we may not even be able to get him safely to a hospital. He could jump out of the car, or just decide not to cooperate. He doesn’t know where he is at at all. He thinks there are bad aliens attacking him in a war setting.

We call back SAMHC and ask for a manager. The manager then gets the SAMHC emergency response team and optionally, the police to respond, and BINGO, one time he gets an evaluation and a stay at the La Frontera in-patient psychiatric health facility, aka the PHF, a very small facility with only a few beds. Actually they are full, so they  put him into Casa Allegre first for a couple days, its a 7 bed boarding transition home, which is much better than the lice-infested  homeless shelter that La Frontera case management has placed active psychosis patients to spend the night.

Luckily, we in Tucson have SAMHC to respond and hold the system somewhat accountable.

But, now there is a new placement destination for in-patient psychiatric emergency care, the CRC (Crisis Response Center) at UPH South aka “Kino” hospital.

But if its a holiday, and they cannot reach a La Frontera case manager, they can just discharge without a serious evaluation, and won’t even contact those who know the patient (family or friends, or even SAMHC). Its quite a fall through the cracks, so its important to get to the hospital yourself to insure your sick one gets an evaluation. Bring proof that you are an authorized representative of your loved one, just a statement they can sign.

A program is available at UPH South called Epicenter, call 520-874-7531 for appointment, they provide group therapy, family member classes, and evaluations/assessments.

Also, an alternative to the CRC for in patient emergency psychiatric care is Palo Verde hospital, adjacent to TMC (Tucson Medical Center). They have had a mixed record, but won’t turn active psychosis patients away like the others do.

Finally, when La Frontera case management returns to work after the holiday, we still might not get even that first call back, or even a first appointment with our new latest case manager, who has not returned any calls for months since they were appointed to get living arrangements set up, and a psychiatric care plan, but most especially having contact with the patient’s authorized representatives (usually family). Case management is getting very poor, and getting worse, not better, in Tucson.

As Arizona taxpayers, we must know about CPSA’s multi-million dollar annual state taxpayer-funded budget, and that La Frontera is one of the contractor organizations along with the CRC, that are getting paid this money to provide case management and care so that society can feel safe from these patients just wandering around in danger to self or to others.

Case managers at La Frontera have said in the past few years, that they are overloaded, and that there are “cutbacks” in service. Once at a La Frontera appointment with a former case manager, we watched a homeless elderly woman in a wheelchair being turned away, as she was told to make an appointment to get service. They could have referred her to SAMHC, but they were not concerned.

CPSA personnel who oversee all this are not proactive even when ongoing problems are documented, they are sometimes responsive in crisis situations, and sometimes are not available for several days, with no backup.

Local Tucson hospital emergency rooms and jails continue to respond and take on greater burdens as the default stop for those mentally ill people falling through the cracks.

For big problems, CPSA has a grievance process that essentially allows them to collect information to cover their legal “behind”, while doing nothing of remedy, even when police reports of abuse are documented, and this is sanctioned all the way to the organization president, where there is no grievance appeal, other than a lawsuit, which is not easy when someone is mentally disabled.

Again, no matter the situation, SAMHC will partner with you to try for help in a crisis:
from SAMHC web site:

Individuals experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis may walk in to the Crisis Center, located at 2502 N. Dodge Boulevard (entrance on Flower Street) in Central Tucson from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
Mobile teams are available 24/7 to respond to crises in the community and can be accessed by calling (520) 622-6000. SAMHC works closely and collaboratively with the public behavioral health system.

We hope your luck is better than ours. Please remember sometimes real health problems can compound an active psychosis, and their is virtually no plan at any Tucson facility we have worked with, to get normal health care follow up for psychiatric patients, especially obtaining critical prescription refills, or care for a contagious illness, to get them to a regular doctor or hospital from the psychiatric facilities.

One way to push back people is to document these events, and report to (phone) 911 (police) and the Arizona state medical board, and Adult Protective Services, when your loved one is subject to abuse and poor care.

Caregiver Improvements Needed in Tucson

article16Caregivers need to treat disabled with some dignity in Tucson.

Disabled mentally challenged patients need extra attention
from Tucson doctors and other health professionals.

In Tucson now, its hard for many mentally disabled children
and adults to even get to the caregivers, period.

When they finally get lucky enough to get transported to a doctors or dentists
office, usually a free clinic like El Rio (thanks guys !)
the real challenge just begins, which can affect the future
history of the patient ever going to a doctor again,
let alone really improve long term health problems they may have.

Communications with someone like this, who has no relatives present
is almost impossible, unless the caregiver at least
knows how to spot and recognize the person is mentally disabled,
and, if the patient is frightened, they can minimize necessary communications.
Nothing gets discussed, let alone solved.

This is time for the caregiver to contact a person who knows
the patient, for example a family member, group home manager,
mental health crisis personnel (eg. SAMHC), or anyone who has
had contact with the patient (even police escorts).

Unfortunately, the family members, when they are present with the patient
at the clinic, hospital or other care facility, are ignored, or not taken
seriously. The new CRC (Crisis Response Center) at UMC South (Kino) ignores
remote family communications (eg. phone calls and faxes), and “loses” patients.)

Our humanity means we care, how can we show we care, and fulfil
the doctor’s hypocratic oath, if the situation is rushed,
and treatment not done in a thoughtful manner, and at least
try our best to provide needed treatment and summary information to
other caregivers, eg. even just a note to the persons caring
for the patient, and hopefully the patient’s case manager.

The treatment of mentally challenged loved ones, must consider
the long term future, and whether the person has been treated with
fairness, and patience, in a manner that they will want to return
to the treatment settings, office, hospital emergency rooms
urgent care centers, etc.

Currently in Tucson, this is not happening as the normal thing, but is the
rare exception, lets congratulate and praise those trying their
best, and encourage all to resolve to address the special needs
of these patients, our loved ones.

Listening and taking notes is not just professional, its required
as competent care. Bad record keeping is very common, and getting
copies of records is problematic.

When we all encourage those involved to take an extra minute or
two to do the job right, and treat these people as “customers that come first”, then
mutual respect and trust can happen.

Those that love their adversaries are wise since converting an adversary
to a friend is challenging, but very worthwhile.

Again thanks to those who care. God bless those you love and those you don’t !

Mental Illness Awareness Issues for 2011

acollier-article12Thanks to all who have chosen the mental health profession, and all caregivers for doing so much to improve the safety and welfare of society in general. This is crucial for our safety.

Its apparent that the following issues will support the mentally ill and society in dealing with this crisis.

Thanks also to law enforcement who are housing the mentally ill in the jails, and who
are the current safety net. Your voices are being heard about jailing the mentally ill, the needless violence, and the daily red flags of people in psychosis. You are speaking in the news about prevention, and the costs of ignoring this continuing problem.

Finally, comparing our list of the past two years, many issues are now addressed, so progress is being made by our Tucson families.

And so here are our list of mental illness awareness issues for 2011.

2011 Mental Illness Awareness Issues

1. Unlicensed group homes conditions are generally unhealthy, need regular oversight and inspections by case managers and CPSA (taxpayer funded management for this). We are all paying for this, and this is the single largest problem area. Thanks to the few good homes out there.

2. Need for new housing solution for mentally ill. When they can pool their disability checks, they can afford to live in a mansion and hire security, nursing, and caregivers. This is currently stymied by Pima county zoning rules, and will require state of Arizona legislation to allow this to happen.

3. Food stamps are available for the mentally ill, about $26 per week. Case managers should help them to apply. Group homes are on a low food budget, and the patients are spending their few extra dollars for food. Group home managers should consider helping the mentally ill clients get food stamps to supplement the food situation.

4. Family members are being blown off by doctors. The mentally ill cannot express themselves well, and when family is trying to reach a doctor to provide the information, doctors refuse to return calls, and then can make serious mistakes not knowing medication allergies etc. This has been a problem for years in Tucson, especially at hospitals.

5. Day labor is available for the mentally ill, even those with criminal records. The clients need to have someone organize to get them to the day labor locations early around 5:30am to get work for a day.

6. Patient advocates are available to resolve complaints at the hospitals, and should be contacted when care is lacking in quality. No one should be left in pain, that is per US government guidelines.

7. Mobile meals of Tucson needs volunteers.

8. Nightly bed bug checks at all facilities is now recommended, the problem is spreading in Tucson group homes, and other facilities used by clients.

9. You can choose your destination hospital, its not up to the ambulance driver !

10. There are no good functioning psychiatric wards in Tucson hospitals, and no place to detox in a safe way. TMC has a cold turkey room with very poor supervision. Stay away ! The best is Kino, but they have communication problems.

11. SAMHC (Phone 520-622-6000) is the best 24 hour help system, but sometimes you can get an inexperienced helper, if so, ask for a manager and dont give up ! They will get help to pickup your loved one with or without police, just be prepared to explain the danger to self or others by making a list of what the mentally ill client is doing out of normal, or if they have stopped taking their medications.

12. Payees scandal – Tucson court case ongoing where disability check payees were stealing from clients. Suggest case managers check that payees are paying clients utility bills.

13. Group homes need to run police checks on all tenants before allowing them to come in. Until this is done, there is a dangerous situation with sexual assaults, thefts, and fugitives.

14. Computer games are increasing violence and worsening mental illness. Same for loud music in sub woofers. Sony announced warnings of seizures when playing their games. Nintendo warned in 12/2010 that young children can get eyesight damage when playing their handheld games.

15. Some group homes only have one manager 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. A minimum of two managers are needed to provide time off. Until then, there is unsupervised time when the manager just takes off. This is dangerous, since clients with active psychosis are being released to these group homes.

16. Group homes should provide some medication oversight-checking to monitor that medications are being taken, and report to case managers when clients are refusing medications, before danger happens.

17. Prayers and actions are working in Tucson ! Thanks guys, you are giving gifts of love.

Good Mansion Alternative

acollier-article9Billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have formed the famous Gates Foundation
as a way to help those in critical need. The Gates Foundation has asked the public
to submit ideas/dreams for them to consider in their mission to help solve society’s problems.

So, I have submitted the following idea, which we call the “Good Mansion”,
since disabled adults can afford to live in a real mansion by pooling their money,
and then also can hire full time nursing, part time doctors, and other staff.

From my letter to info@GatesFoundation.org :

Hi,

We heard that you wanted to hear some good ideas.

See our article on what is wrong with Group Homes now.

The Answer
We would like to see the mentally ill now living in very small Group Homes,
pool their Social Security Disability (SSA, SSI) monthly checks into having larger homes of 50-100 people where their monthly checks combine to get them full time nursing, doctors/dentists visits weekly, and much better living conditions.

The disabled mentally ill, when stabilized on their medicines are released
into the community to these unlicensed group homes, serving maybe 4-8 people
in each home, and making a profit for the landlords.

Unfortunately, when these patients, who get around $674 per month maximum,
pool their money, they could get much better results than the problems
found in the report we wrote for examiner.com quoted above .

Examples
1. 674/month times 100 people = $67,400.00 per month available for living.
2. 674/month times 50 people = $33,700.00 per month available for living.

So there is plenty of money to obtain a great standard of living
and reduce how many mentally ill people wind up in prison, costing
us all, when they wander away from the groups homes now, due to very poor conditions.

Please consider this idea to help these poor people, just by pooling their own money and
living in larger homes etc. with better staff, adequate food, and a decent life.

Someone just needs to organize this by obtaining/cosigning for the buildings, hiring the staff, and
these disabled people will come, they are all very unhappy with the current situation, as reported in my article.

Thanks for your time.

———— end of letter to Gates Foundation, sent 11-20-2010 ——————

Please spread the word to pray for this dream plan to move forward,
here is a list of benefits that could be obtained through this program called the

Good Mansion:

1. Reduced need for prison space for the mentally disabled.

2. New jobs for the public ! The Good Mansions will need management, nursing, and other staff.

3. Improved living conditions and improved benefits for the recipients of tax dollars for the disabled. The money is better spent as intended, with less going to third party landlords.

4. A solution for families that want long term safety for their loved ones, especially after the families are no longer alive or well enough to care for their disabled family members and friends.

5. Improve public safety by replacing unlicensed group homes with a secure place where the mentally disabled are not allowed to wander off into the community without supervision, as they do now, causing danger to self and to others.

6. Opportunity for researchers to study or live in this situation for identifying what works, social benefits and cures.

Causes of childhood death that you can prevent and the warning signs

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The following are preventable causes of death, let’s all do our part to watch for warning signs that we must act:

1. Suicide. warning signs are here.

2. Mental illness: becoming a danger to self or to others, warning signs and how to cope is here. There are reports that too much time on computer games was a factor in schizophrenia illness (hearing voices from the game).

3. Overdose – Some doctor’s offices are equipped to handle non-life-threatening cases of overdose, but in an emergency, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or dial 9-1-1.
Warning signs are here.
Interventions PDF document download here.

4. Alcohol Overdose – warning signs are here.

5. Child Abuse, warning signs are here. Relatives take note !

6. Negligent caregivers – Inspect your loved ones care facility and know the caregivers. warning signs are here.

Alert: Planned Parenthood has not denied that their employees do not report statutory rapes to police. They have also confirmed they use nurse practitioners to perform abortions.

7. Depression (which can kill slowly). warning signs are here.

To get help, or for more information, call:

NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness Free and Anonymous Advice, Toll free: (800)626-5022
SAMHC in Tucson – Free, caring and anonymous advice and help ! Call 520-622-6000

Free mental illness awareness activities available in Tucson

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The following activities are available to everyone to help with mental illness support and awareness:

1. Reaching multicultural faith communities during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) Oct. 4-10 Mental Illness Awareness Week is a public awareness and education campaign across the country. Learn how NAMI in San Antonio will engage multicultural faith communities during MIAW week.

2. National Day of Prayer Oct. 6
Tuesday, Oct. 6 has been designated as a day of prayer for mental illness recovery and understanding.

The NAMI FaithNet web site offers a variety of resources that can be used as part of outreach efforts, including bulletin inserts, prayers, liturgies and an interfaith candle lighting service. Additional resources in English and Spanish are available at the mental health ministries web site.

3. National Depression Screening Day Oct. 8
Thursday, on national depression screening day, screenings will be sponsored by hospitals, mental health centers, primary care clinics, social service agencies and some faith communities, among other places.

It is important to inform everyone about free local screenings because they are often the first step anyone can take to get help. Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that affects adults and children. Treatment can help most people, but clinical depression can trick people into suicidal acts if left untreated. Meth abuse is causing our loved ones to become depressed, leading to low self-worth, lack of happiness in their lives, and feeling damaged. In 2009, no one needs to live without hope !

For anonymous help, contact the national depression screening project office at (781) 239-0071.

NAMI is a local and national grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families impacted by mental illness.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
3803 N. Fairfax Dr. Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203

Toll free: (800)626-5022

Source: NAMI FaithNet Newsletter: October 2009
The NAMI FaithNet Newsletter is an electronic newsletter provided free of charge as a public service.

Getting Help Fast (when something is very wrong)

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Getting Help Fast (when something is very wrong), 9/10/2009

SAMHC is the local Tucson, Arizona (and regional) organization that can physically get help now for your loved one who is hurting with a possible mental illness. They will come when you call, with a response team of professionals, and will even bring the police if its necessary to get the help your child needs. What sort of behavior is handled by SAMHC ? Any behavior that is a danger to self or to others. Wow, what a heart break it is, just to deal with all of this. Just stop, take a deep breath, call 520-622-6000 and discuss what’s going on with these “24 hours per day, and 7 days per week” caring people. Or, you can get the police on your own, to take your loved one to any hospital emergency room and request an evaluation to determine mental fitness, and protect your loved one. When there is danger to themselves or to others, we must act quickly. We know how it can be when no one notices these issues except the family, so document and note the strange behavior ! Many have ignored these cries for help. A close friend was injured badly just wandering into the road, getting hit by a car. Lets remember that “love converts hearts and gives peace”, and so please treat everyone involved with patience. They don’t usually understand at all what you are dealing with. Read posted articles here to find out how to “deal with the system”, get needed help and remove your loved one from danger when mentally ill.