Wednesday, August 05, 2015

My son died in a mental health facility. If we keep protecting dangerous hospitals, he won’t be the last.

From the Washington Post. Full article at the link

On Nov. 23, I received the call no parent wants to get – my only son was dead. My beautiful, 24-year-old boy was gone. It is a nightmare I have yet to wake up from; one I will never wake up from.

I could barely hear the words from the other end of the line; my cries were drowning them out. I was driving when I received the call, and had to pull over to call my son’s father. Then I had to drive home to deliver the news to my daughter, Paris. How I made it home without getting in a wreck is a mystery to me.

Two-and-a-half months prior, my ex-husband, Kristoff St. John, and I had placed our son, Julian, at Telecare’s La Casa Mental Health Rehabilitation Center in Long Beach, Calif. on a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold. Julian had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 17 and had become suicidal while off his medication and on a powerful substance – meth. The staff upgraded him to a 14-day hold, and then lengthened it again for an indefinite period, to give him adequate time to get off of meth.

Like many parents of children with mental health issues, our goal was to find help for our son who suffers from a horrific illness for which there is no cure. We knew that, with proper medication and therapy, Julian had a chance of living a comfortable life. So we sought help from Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health, which referred us to Telecare’s facility. The county says it pays Telecare $17 million per year to contract 190 beds at La Casa. We had hoped that the facility would help him withdraw from meth and get back on his meds, and that within the year, Julian would come home – alive.

But we made a fatal mistake placing our son in the care of La Casa, one of many mental health facilities in this country that contracts with state and local governments. Like many before him, Julian didn’t make it out alive.
Of course, the problem is that these people are trusted to do things the are not capable of doing.

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