Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Teresa Pasquini: One mom who advocates for change.

Today I am honored to feature a mom's story of advocacy and, most importantly, of hope.  Her name is Teresa Pasquini and she lives in California.  I urge you to read her story and her testimony in support of Laura's Law, assisted outpatient treatment in California.  

She tells me, "I know that AOT isn't the magic bullet and that there is great resistance which is sad. We need a system of CARE from prevention to AOT."  

And although I'm 2,000+ miles away in Tennessee, I echo her sentiments completely.

Read her story here:  A Mother's Lessons: Reflections from Teresa Pasquini

Read her testimony here:

My full testimony to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisor's Family and Human Services Committee on October 16, 2013:

I am Teresa Pasquini, a Mental Health Commissioner, a member of CPAW and Chair of the Behavioral Healthcare Partnership of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. I speak today as a mom and family member only.

I want to thank the family members and consumers of the workgroup who have worked with county staff to consider a recommendation on Laura’s Law. I do use the term Laura’s Law because we must not sanitize why we are here and forget the law’s namesake. Laura Wilcox gave her life because of a broken system. In spite of the best intentions we have an unsafe mental health system in Contra Costa. We are here because we have a system that treats too many by jail, after tragedy or not at all. We have lost too many lives because the criteria of danger to self and others are often too late. Laura’s Law will save lives, save families and possibly save our souls.

My son has a long, expensive history of failed treatment under the current Contra Costa Health Services LPS conservatorship program. He would not make it in a Full Service Partnership because it is a voluntary program and he suffers from anosognosia. His care has cost this county over $753,000 in just three years. The county’s burden of my son’s care is truly a stunning record of fiscal and human waste. Lets stop wasting money we don’t have and start a Laura’s Law program for those few who cost so much.

My son is now at Napa State Hospital and my husband and I visit weekly. We have travelled to locked facilities on weekends for over 14 years. We saw three additional families at Napa last weekend and ironically, we were all from District 1, Supervisor Gioia’s District. That is also the same district that a recent murder occurred of a family in Pinole.

There are more Contra Costa County families with loved ones at Napa State Hospital in 2013 then when the MHSA was implemented in 2005. I assume that the alleged Pinole murder client will end up there too. That is expensive treatment after tragedy. That is evidence of the failure of our current system.

There should be a legal risk assessment for the county’s liability of NOT implementing this law. Please request a full system cost breakdown of out of county placements in locked settings where treatment is often forced. Also, the numbers of open county clients revolving through psych emergency and our county jails. And please assess the number of Contra Costa families who have adult children living with them that present a danger to self and others.

As was stated at the recent Board meeting during the discussion of the West County jail grant-Community safety and evidence based programming will benefit Contra Costa. Why wait for jail? Laura’s Law will keep the numbers of those with serious mental illness from entering the criminal system and our very impacted jails.

We don’t need more studying, Laura’s Law is an evidence-based program that will improve community safety and save county funds. Lets stop the human and fiscal bleeding in Contra Costa and create a Laura’s Law program now. Please give clear direction to the Mental Health Director to find the money to implement this law in Contra Costa.

No comments:

Post a Comment