I know the area well. Not a great way to celebrate any family-centric holiday.
Photo NOT from this story
❝ He was found dead in the doorway of a restaurant, under a tarp, huddled in the rain. He came to my office because his death was in public view. We didn’t even know his name. A search of the police fingerprint database gave him an ID and revealed he was homeless, a veteran, and had no living next of kin. We found no medical records under his name. His body was a testament to hard living on the street. The dirt was so ingrained into his palms and soles that even when I laid into it with soap and an abrasive kitchen pot scrubber (looking for injuries or track marks) my efforts barely managed to uncover his natural flesh color. His face carried wrinkles beyond his 57 years. Dead people generally look like they are sleeping. This man looked worn.
❝ The autopsy was one of the strangest I have ever performed. When I cut into the flesh, there was no passive blood flow. Instead of red fluid, his veins and arteries contained … pink noodles. His circulatory system was filled with what looked like spaghetti — the blood had congealed inside the vessels, in thin branching ropes. He had a moderately enlarged heart and a bit of black pigmentation of the lungs, and his toxicology report came back clean of alcohol or any drugs of abuse. The answers came to me under the microscope. His blood had been replaced by large white cell progenitors. It was ropy because it was mostly white blood cells, and not normal ones, either, but blasts. He had leukemia…
❝ Little did I know that by going into forensic pathology, a subspecialty of a subspecialty, I was going to end up practicing primary care medicine. My patients are frequently the under-treated and under-diagnosed, the uninsured and under-served — which is why they end up on my autopsy table. We don’t autopsy those who have had medical attention and who are under the care of a physician who is willing and able to sign a death certificate for a natural cause. We bring in and autopsy those who die suddenly, unexpectedly, and violently. This includes those who die at home or on the street and those we can’t identify. They include the drug-addicted and the homeless, and those who are too poor to seek medical care. Sometimes I am the only doctor my patients have ever seen.
A worthwhile read, my friends. Please click the link – and read on.
Celebrate life, celebrate love, celebrate family; but, don’t believe everything you’re told about holidays.
Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you: you had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another….
Say now the king
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountainish inhumanity.
❝ Aaron’s Inc., an appliance and electronics-leasing company, has broken the Guinness World Record for the longest human mattress domino chain.
Guinness World Records released a video of the feat Thursday, showing 1,200 people holding mattresses behind them and falling backward into each other, one at a time, inside a Prince George’s County, Maryland, warehouse on March 22…
❝ Aaron’s CEO John Robinson pushed over the first mattress. It took 13 minutes and 38 seconds for the final mattress to fall.
The Atlanta-based company says it will be donating all 1,200 mattresses to Washington-area organizations focused on ending poverty and providing shelter to homeless families.
And that’s the best reason for giving ’em a plug.
Lieutenant Lionel Garcia – lead officer of Mental Evaluation Unit — Maya Sugarman/KPCC
The Los Angeles Police Department’s mental evaluation unit is the largest mental health policing program of its kind in the nation, with 61 sworn officers and 28 mental health workers from the county…
Officer Ted Simola and his colleagues in the unit work with county mental health employees to provide crisis intervention when people with mental illnesses come into contact with police…
Triage duty involves helping cops on the scene evaluate and deal with people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
The triage officers are first and foremost a resource for street cops. Part of their job entails deciding which calls warrant an in-person visit from the unit’s 18 cop-clinician teams. These teams, which operate as second responders to the scene, assisted patrol officers in more than 4,700 calls last year.
Sometimes their work involves high-profile interventions, such as helping S.W.A.T. teams with dangerous standoffs or talking a jumper off a ledge. But on most days it involves relieving patrol officers of time-consuming mental health calls…
That’s the right approach, says Peter Eliasberg, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “The goal is to make sure that people who are mentally ill, who are not a danger to the community, are moved towards getting treatment and services as opposed to getting booked and taken into the jail.”
Detective Charles Dempsey is in charge of training for LAPD’s mental evaluation unit. He says pairing a cop or detective with a county mental health worker means the two can discuss both the criminal justice records that the health worker isn’t privy to and the medical records that a cop can’t access because of privacy laws.
About two-thirds of the calls are resolved successfully, he says…
But there are complicated cases, too. And these, Dempsey says, are assigned to the unit’s detective-clinician teams. Dempsey says most of the 700 cases they handled last year involved both people whose mental illness leads them to heavily use or abuse emergency services, or who are at the greatest risk for violent encounters with police and others.
“Jails were not set up to be treatment facilities,” says Mark Gale, who serves as criminal justice chairman for the LA County Council of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “People get worse in jail.”
Gale and other mental health advocates praise the LAPD unit’s approach and call it a good first step. But for diversion to work well, they say, the city and county need to provide treatment programs at each point a mentally ill person comes into contact with the criminal justice system — from interactions with cops all the way through the courts.
Of course, there used to be a system that provided much of this treatment – The US Public Health Service and a chain of national PHS hospitals across the country. Ronald Reagan did his level best to close them all down. He didn’t get all of them – but, he did succeed in evicting tens of thousands of mentally ill patients and putting them out on the streets.
RTFA for anecdotal examples of the work being done by the LAPD.
Jerome Murdough was just looking for a warm place to sleep on a chilly night last month when he curled up in an enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project where he was arrested for trespassing.
A week later, the mentally ill homeless man was found dead in a Rikers Island jail cell that four city officials say had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment.
The officials told the Associated Press that the 56-year-old former marine was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more vulnerable to heat. He also apparently did not open a small vent in his cell, as other inmates did, to let in cool air.
“He basically baked to death,” said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss specifics of the case.
The medical examiner’s office said an autopsy was inconclusive and that more tests were needed to determine Murdough’s exact cause of death. But the officials, all with detailed knowledge of the case, say initial indications from the autopsy and investigation point to extreme dehydration or heat stroke.
Advocates for mentally ill inmates in New York say the death represents the failure of the city’s justice system on almost every level: by arresting Murdough instead of finding him help, by setting bail at a prohibitive $2,500 and by not supervising him closely in what is supposed to be a special observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses.
Department of correction spokesman…said…blah, blah, blah.
Murdough’s 75-year-old mother, Alma Murdough, said she did not learn of her son’s death until the AP contacted her last week, nearly a month after he died…
Wanda Mehala…one of Murdough’s sisters, said the family wants an explanation.
“We want justice for what was done,” she said. “He wasn’t just some old homeless person on the street. He was loved. He had a life. He had a family. He had feelings.”
I’ll second that emotion!
Nearly three-quarters of homeless adults with mental illness in Canada show evidence of cognitive deficits, such as difficulties with problem solving, learning and memory, new research has found…
“This points to an often unrecognized problem for the segment of Canada’s homeless population that suffers from mental illness,” said Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, chief of psychiatry at St. Michael’s Hospital and a scientist in its Centre for Research on Inner City Health.
“These are the skills that people need to follow treatment or support recommendations, maintain housing stability or successfully complete day-to-day tasks.”
Each year up to 200,000 Canadians are homeless. The prevalence of mental illness among homeless individuals is much higher than the rest of the population, with more than 12 per cent suffering from severe mental illness, 11 per cent having mood disorders and close to 40 per cent reporting alcohol and drug addictions.
All of the participants in Dr. Stergiopoulos’ study experienced mental illness. About half met criteria for psychosis, major depressive disorder and alcohol or substance abuse, and nearly half had experienced traumatic brain injury…
“The data doesn’t help us to predict whether someone will have cognitive challenges, but it does show that if they experience homelessness and mental illness, it’s very likely,” said Dr. Stergiopoulos. “It adds to our understanding about why people may have difficulty accessing or keeping housing.”
Dr. Stergiopoulos noted the study is important for those who work directly with disadvantaged populations because it highlights that adaptations and improvements need to be made to treatment and support options. Lack of engagement is not necessarily because someone doesn’t want help, but may be because they don’t understand how to access or make use of it.
At least it sounds like our Northern Neighbors are trying. Perhaps Harper isn’t as callous as his role model Ronald Reagan.
Every Republican’s favorite Tin Jesus just about single-handed created the tidal wave of homeless, especially those with mental illness. His efforts to crush the US Public Health Service and hospital system put thousands of the mentally ill on our streets.