To: Psychiatric Security Review Board, Oregon State Hospital, and Oregon Health Authority:
Re: My son
Date: July 10, 2017
Please realize (as I have said for many years, and continue to advocate for) the least restrictive environment, where my son will not be "a danger to himself," is a structured group home setting.
In that structured living model, he is supported by staff monitoring, medication management, money management, household responsibilities, human interactions, healthy social and outdoor activities, regularly scheduled appointments, and appropriate mental health treatment. He does have a problem going to groups. He thinks more one-on-one talk therapy would help him. (I agree.)
It is unrealistic to expect him to provide these things for himself: to be safe, to be functional, to be financially responsible, to choose appropriate social interactions, or to be medically healthy in an "independent living" situation. He has done well during his time at Oregon State Hospital, in the Cottages, and when he moved into the structured group home in Bend. Then, because his time was coming to an end under the Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) he was moved into an "independent living" setting; his own apartment in the community. He had minimal support or interaction. As I warned anyone who would listen, and as his history shows, he began to unravel. He went missing for an excruciatingly long week.
No one, who works with him now, has ever seen him in a psychotic state, or gut shot by a gang member while he was living on the streets, or near death from exercising his "civil right" of living a dangerous street life "in the community."
This time, when he left his apartment, he made it from Bend to Corvallis by bus and on foot. He had blisters on his feet, he (barely) slept on park benches, he quit taking his medication, he drank alcohol, and he had no support. Thank God he turned himself in to the Corvallis police, before being arrested, harmed, or worse. They brought him back to OSH, thanks to a missing person bulletin that had been issued.
He is beginning to recover. Nevertheless, he is not an appropriate candidate for "independent living." He ran away, and he will do it again. Why flush the last 5 years (of your work and his work for him to become stabilized) down the toilet? As soon as the PSRB incentives are removed, he'll be at the mission or on the streets - in imminent danger.
What about civil commitment? He has even advanced that option himself, during some of his more insightful and self-reflective conversations. He can say the words the court wants to hear to move him along through (and temporarily out of) the system. However, that will not save him from himself or from the streets or from being left in an untreated, dangerous, or in a psychotic state.
He's too old and too ill to survive on the streets and to keep having to start over. Right now, that is still preventable. He is a person with disabilities and several life threatening illnesses. He deserves medical treatment, just like a cancer patient deserves medical treatment. He deserves the treatment and support needed to reach his full potential. He is a kind, smart, creative person who functions well with support. Without that support, the costs to him personally, and to society in general are immeasurable.
Sincerely, Carole M
Note: Today, 8/30/18, Carole writes: My son is in a structured group home and is in the ACT program. He has a team of people who work with him - counselors, doctors, peers - and stable housing. This has made all the difference in the world for him. He isn’t being left to fend for himself. He chooses to do things like short hikes, swimming, and community outings. He usually has a good attitude and is med compliant. He struggles with side effects and diabetes. He has an eye infection which could lead to blindness if he doesn't use steroid eye drops.
Recently, he had a bike accident which required surgery on his wrist/hand and a cast. He also fractured his elbow. So he has to go from being somewhat active to resting and healing.