"Your failure to act has already cost the state some
$650,000 for one client in one year."
For the sake of argument, let’s say you don’t give a hoot about the developmentally disabled. It’s a tragedy, you admit, but ultimately it should be the family’s responsibility to provide for their loved one just like everyone else provides for their kids. Fine. No judgment here (well maybe).
Setting morals aside, let’s talk money. The Lanterman Act is already law and requires housing and various services for the developmentally disabled from cradle to grave. From your perspective, the state has been more than generous providing all that is does, and you see no reason to keep adding to the pot of free money.
After listening to Bodi’s story, dear legislator, you will understand why you want to increase DDS funding, even if you feel no moral obligation. Why? Because it’s cheaper than the alternative.
Since his birth until age 19, Bodi, who has severe cerebral palsy, lived his entire life with his mother Sarah, and at times at the residence of his father Eli. In 2014, at age 19, Bodi began experiencing some mental health crisis (in conjunction with his developmental disability) that resulted in severe behaviors that caused danger to himself and others.
In attempt to help Bodi, Sarah took him to the emergency room at Marin General Hospital seeking temporary, acute mental health treatment. Because of Bodi’s developmental disability, MGH turned him away, stating their inpatient mental health treatment facilities were not equipped to help a disabled person such as Bodi! Go to GGRC, they said.
Sarah returned home with Bodi and called GGRC. We can offer a group home placement, they said, but it will take weeks to months to find something and they do not address mental health. This is the responsibility of county mental health. More episodes of extreme behavior followed, including a suicide attempt, shattering Sarah’s car windshield and running up the street naked. Sarah tried four more times to take Bodi to various hospitals (UCSF, MGH & Sierra Nevada Memorial) and obtain entrance for him to a mental health placement. Each time she was told his disability could not be accommodated and sent to the regional center for help, where she was sent back to county mental health.
At one point, on a temporary admission to the mental health unit at Marin General Hospital, and being told once again that the inpatient mental health facilities could not accommodate Bodi, Sarah was advised by an adult protective services worker to “abandon” him at the hospital. If she did this, the APS worker advised, the medical system would have to find a placement for Bodi. Desperate for the medical system to help, Sarah followed the advice of the social worker.
At this point, GGRC filed a 6500 petition in San Mateo County Court, declaring Bodi as a danger to himself or others. GGRC’s justification for the 6500 was that Bodi had had numerous 5150 hospital admissions. It is important to note, that if any one of those hospitals had agreed to treat Bodi in an inpatient mental health treatment facility, that would have likely been the last hospital admission.
After being committed to the Department of Developmental Services temporarily on May 19, 2014, (permanently on June 23, 2014) Bodi remained housed at UCSF for more than six weeks, even though there was nothing medically wrong with him, while GGRC looked for placement. At approximately $6,000 a night, this cost the state taxpayers approximately $270,000 for SIX WEEKS OF HOUSING. GGRC eventually placed Bodi in a not appropriate group home where he languished all day with no educational or day program. Because of the state’s failure to provide him necessary services, Bodi became violent and suicidal again and returned for another six week stay at Mills Peninsula Hospital, to the tune of another $270,000. Eventually Bodi was placed at a pilot program at Sonoma Developmental Center that has a maximum stay of 1 year.
What you need to know, Mr/Ms. Legislator, is that your failure to act has already cost the state some $650,000 for one client in one year. Guaranteed he will be checking back into Motel UCSF if he is not offered an appropriate placement after his term at Sonoma Developmental is up. And he’s not the only one. Act now or pay a hundred times over in Medi-Cal costs.
The author is a special needs parent and advocate residing in the Bay Area.