03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Guilty

Picture: November 21 and 22, 2009. Los Angeles. Linden Center, the Program that I direct, has had a tremendous amount of difficulty caring for a 14 year old girl -- let's call her Mary. She, unfortunately, is a Manic-Depressive Psychotic. She had run away a total of 5 days in the last 6, and amongst other problems, missed approximately one half of her medications, which accounts for her erratic and dangerous behavior. She returned to the residential facility the night of the 30th, in a relatively calm mood. We had decided that when we next saw her that we would hospitalize her. That was the 30th. So we called the police, the usual procedure. Initially two officers arrived, assessed the situation, and were of the opinion that she should be hospitalized, but that they needed to consult with a representative of the Police Department's "Smart Team." Two "Smart Team" representatives arrived. Based on the fact that Mary was 'calm,' in spite of her history, recent actions, missed medications, diagnosis, depression, the "Smart Team" deemed that she required nothing, let alone an evaluation by a local hospital mental health staff. How these men deserved the term "Smart Team" is utterly beyond me. I can think of many other, vastly more correct designations.

I then called the police division with which we always deal and spoke with the Watch Commander. I made it clear who I was and wanted to see the reports written by his officers. He said that was fine and that his officers would soon return and that then I would get the reports. "When might that be?" "Whenever I feel like it," he said (a real charmer). I also asked for the reports written by the "Smart Team." The watch commander said he would give me a phone number that I could use to call the "smart team' and discuss those reports. The number he gave me was the number of a real estate agency. (Concern for my well-being, he probably wanted to be sure I had adequate housing). I had nowhere to go with the LAPD that night.

The story gets better. In the morning I had one of my staff call this same division to complete her records with the names of the two officers who had come to the house, the "smart team." Believe it or not, no one answered the phone of that division, a major division of LAPD. Many, many rings. We tried calling again and again no one answered. Many, many rings. So we tried a cell phone, one with a different return number. They answered immediately. They quite obviously didn't want to talk with us.

I finally did receive a call from a very nice woman at DMH. She explained many ins and outs of the system, many of which were new to me, including the fact that the "Smart Team" was part of LAPD. However, she said, DMH was unable to locate Mary or Linden Center in their system, a totally inconceivable fact. Should those records be needed for the treatment of Mary, emergency or not, good luck to Mary. She doesn't exist. Her records don't exist. For that matter, neither do I. The DMH woman Googled me and found many references to me and the Linden Center. Not good enough. I guess she thought I was lying. Interestingly, there is no way any caregiver could prove they were who they said they were. No matter. Neither we, nor Mary, nor her records exist. Nothing plus nothing equals nothing.

Thus, in the space of 24 hours, a girl, Mary, taken care of by the best the system has to offer (Linden Center) doesn't exist in the records of DMH (very important medical records), is dealt with by a so-called mental health "smart team," a watch commander who lies, gives out bogus phone numbers, and a large precinct of LAPD who just don't answer their phone (unless one uses a cell phone) etc. Oh yeah, Mary also needed a special education school, a residential program, and treatment for her disease. And her adoptive mother was very recently diagnosed with cancer. Mary was adopted because Mary's mother is an alcoholic and drug addict.

Can you imagine being a 14-year-old Manic Depressive Psychotic, Mary, trying to navigate your way through this morass. Not a chance.

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