Tucson US District Judge postpones Jared Loughner competency hearing this month

Today the Associated Press reported that a status hearing on the competency of Jared Loughner has been pushed back until early August 2012.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns rescheduled Loughner’s status hearing to Aug. 7 to determine whether Loughner will stand trial for the Tucson shooting in January 2011.

Psychiatric medication may help stabilize a mentally ill person for a period of time, ranging from weeks to a few years. In local Tucson cases we have been involved in, its very illusive to get medications to work more than a few years, then its back to square one, danger to self and others.

Many, many mentally ill patients are currently unstable, even with meds, this is a big problem in our country, and in Tucson too.

Our local crisis response centers are not even stabilizing these patients anymore before they are released, its a bad situation.

Its only a matter of time before another cry for help is ignored unto suicide or worse.

Our tax dollars should at least work to keep us safe. If you agree, tell your legislators,
and write and file grievances with your case management, and the care providers.

Thanks guys (caregivers and patients trying to get help) for hanging in there, we are trying to get the word out about your situation. Its usually a miracle for a mentally ill person to even recognize they have a problem ! Most don’t.

Even if the judge could (by court order) medicate someone into holding together for a trial, its a denial of the facts about how far those medications can go. A year is plenty of time to see if medications were needed or not, and if they worked or not.

Maybe Loughner is a sane criminal fanatic too. We don’t see the mentally ill going so far
normally, but then again… My writings here are a warning that some of our mental illness problems in Tucson are indeed out of control.

Anyway, the judge has the tough job to decide now, and not kick the can down the road using hopeful medication scenarios, running up the bill for taxpayers.

Prayers do work, lets get going !

Here are my friends at the legislature who are sending a lot of money (millions) to the providers, eg. CPSA:

Honorable Cecil Ash, House Health Committee Chair: cash@azleg.gov

Honorable Nancy Barto, Seante Health Committe Chair: nbarto@azleg.gov

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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.

Immoral Activity at Catholic Hospitals

nee-pix2The newspaper of the Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmstead in Phoenix, AZ, the Catholic Sun reported today that San Francisco based Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) hospitals in the Phoenix area, including St. Joseph’s Hospital are not really Catholic, and that prolifers and Christians should beware of the actions being taken at these facilities against Christian morality.

We are waiting comment from Tucson Bishop Kicanis regarding also condemning CHW hospitals in Tucson which include St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s, Tucson Heart Hospital and others.

Bishop Olmstead also revealed that Mercy Care, the Arizona Medicaid AHCCCS contractor is also responsible for these same activities, and is Arizona taxpayer funded.

The report said:

“Through its involvement in the Mercy Care Plan, the bishop said CHW has been responsible for a litany of practices in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. These include: contraceptive counseling, provision of various forms of contraception, voluntary sterilization, and abortions “. This includes abortifacient birth control pills linked to breast cancer. This includes abortion pills, also known as “Morning After” pills that kill babies. The pain experienced by babies in the womb is well documented.

Governor Jan Brewer, a prolifer, may well see these as prime targets for AHCCCS funding cuts, since the prolife voting majority in Arizona does not want to fund these immoral actions.

Group Homes in Tucson

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It is a shame what is going on with Tucson’s so called “unlicensed Group Homes”.

Some homes are much better than others, thanks to those who care.

Try to avoid the others who don’t care !

Here is the list of what we found wrong in the 2008-2010 timeframe:

1.    Not clean, unsanitary conditions. Even dishes for eating are not clean. The patients are required
to clean up, which is usually not good enough, even when they try hard. They are mentally ill !

2.    Not fed enough. Even though they say 3 meals a day, not true ! Patients buy their own food
to eat enough.

3.    Rent is too high, usually $500-525 per month for room and board. The maximum income these patients have is $674 on Social security disability, many get even less to live on. No one advocates to get them their full amount, which is sometimes denied at the initial SSI process.

4.    No hot water !

5.    No toilet paper or napkins.

6.    Coed homes, where improper behavior between patients happens, even though against the rules.

7.    24 hour supervision is promised, but doesn’t always happen. These patients can have a psychotic relapse, and so must be monitored, and safety must be maintained for all the patients at the group home in event of problems.

8.    Patients are largely ignored, their needs are not met as human beings. No one checks on them
at least weekly, in order to make appointments for their medical and dental needs. No one asks
them if they need something, which they could get with their own money, eg. toiletries, deodorant, etc.

9.    No published rules. Verbal rules are ignored. Safety is reduced.

10.    Stealing is going on from mentally disabled, cigs, clothes, food, personals. Walmart sells lock boxes and a couple locks for around $20. It’s worth it.

11.    Paroled drug offenders (street people) are being housed with the mentally ill patients, and are taking advantage of them, “borrowing money” and other stealing.

12.    Alcoholic beverages sometimes are given to the mentally ill.

13.    Good living skills are not taught. Bad living skills are not always dealt with.

14.    The mentally challenged are being made fun of.

15.    The patients are threatened, in order to get money, meds, clothing, and personal items. Or they are just taken from them in a confrontational bullying style.

16.    Sheets, pillows, and blankets were not available for the beds, only bed covers.

17.    No rides provided. No assistance to get a ride provided.

18.    Some doctors and nurses don’t know enough about mentally disabled patients, so they are of minimal or no help for these patients who have trouble communicating. No one helps them to write down their needs, or be there for support, to get the help needed. Group home supervision is completely absent for these needs, or to even call someone for assistance.
When a patient relapses into psychosis (DANGER), some group homes take no action to call SAMHC at 520-622-6000 for help to get the patient into emergency free treatment.

19.    CPSA group home grievance procedures are a joke, although they will write warning letters to the homes. Copies of notes of verbal reports were not provided. Sexual abuse report ignored. Police reports of hospital abuse were ignored. All these were ignored by the CEO.

20.     Safety of patients not handled well by case management, with some exceptions. So don’t count on them to help with group home conditions.

21. Bed bugs !

Finally, these mentally disabled patients could use a Buddy, you ! Contact Tucson NAMI at 520-622-5582 to join their buddy program to check on these people, at least once per week for a phone call, and maybe a monthly in-person visit.

The mentally disabled need your help ! The above conditions are happening to them now. It’s discouraging to their spirits, and reduces effectiveness of treatment. The impact to society comes when they just give up, and stop taking their meds, and become a danger to self or others. Then they become at risk for going to prison. Our prisons have many mentally ill brothers and sisters there who may not have been dangerous if only they stayed on their meds (medicines). Please, let’s care more for each other, we need it !

Mental Illness Awareness Issues for 2010

nee-pix3-dreamchildLast year we posted some goals in an article on Mental health awareness and related TV programs.

In the Tucson area, improved conditions have caused us to revise the top issues list, so here it is.

Top Mental Illness Awareness areas for 2010:

1. Unlicensed group living homes improvements. Dealing with Group homes has improved this past year. This was a HUGE set of issues. Thanks to those out there that showed they care !  Most of adult mentally ill and rehab people live in this setting after release to the Tucson metro area.
2. CPSA Oversight progress, memos can be generated on request,  to unlicensed group homes, etc.
3. Therapy, especially to develop ongoing goals. Therapy, even for court ordered patients is still optional ! Request it from case management.
4. NAMI Buddy program, get people involved. Any adult can volunteer to check on a buddy preferably at least weekly phone call and a monthly visit, to insure they are OK. Act to surface issues on their behalf to case management, or SAMHC crisis line.
5. Food boxes, clothing distribution. They do need help getting things, clothing is available through Casa Maria, and churches.
6. Free Dental options (UMC Dental School, free exams/xrays specials at local dental offices).
7. Safety at facilities, especially transitions during active psychoses, and for all court ordered treatment.
8. Using grievance processes available.
9. Thinking Big, mega group home concept development. Pool resources to be able to have full time staff, dr, nurse, 24 x 7 therapy. Prevents the problems that land mentally ill people into prison when psychotic. The meds need tweaking periodically, someone has to pay attention ! This would provide an alternative to the unlicensed group homes.
10. Cost effectiveness, adult mental health vs. prisons expansion – Funding of prisons is much more costly than funding housing and therapy programs. We need to help these human beings before they wind up in trouble. A man was found this week naked after killing a young police officer in Phoenix, we need to prevent this now !
11. Access to medical scheduling and rides assistance. Sometimes as simple as phone call to case management of psychiatric or medical providers/plans. They have case assistance available to help. A buddy just needs to do the initial call, and follow up.
12. Support for case management by friends or family to volunteer as power-of-attorney representatives, and get records access for reviews using a signed medical release form. Be able to act on the patients behalf, especially for emergencies !
13. Medical Living Wills to assure of pain management. Otherwise they suffer when they cannot communicate for themselves.

The 2009 List:
1. Funding of prisons is much more costly than funding housing and therapy programs. We need to help these human beings before they wind up in trouble.
2. Many more caring people are needed for these jobs: case managers, group home managers/couples/teams, drivers, doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.
3. The impact of new medicines is phenomenal, these allow patients to come back to reality, and avoid psychotic acts.
4. Doctors and nurses need to gain awareness of the importance of improving communications with those intimately familiar with the patients, especially family members. Sometimes these poor ones cannot speak for themselves, or are in denial.
5. The need to create care options for mentally ill persons with no family left to look after them.
6. Teachers must be better informed to identify early signs of mental illness, and to stop persecution and stigma.
7. Better understanding of the feelings of mentally ill people is needed. Anyone can send stigma/persecution reports to the Tucson NAMI office.
8. Advocates are needed for reform of the mental health system, especially problem facilities lacking best practices, especially those without policies and procedures.

Now that school is out, please volunteer ! For those that want to do door to door visitations, most local Catholic churches have Legion of Mary chapters that train and equip people to get out and meet those in need. Praying (auxiliary) members are also accepted.

We have noted college students at Mt Saint Mary’s University are volunteering this way, as well as students in other states, go get ’em guys !

– learning classes
– ask for suggestions.
– procedures for the homes to avoid food poisoning, periodic cleaning, inspections, house rules, how-to’s eg. get help

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