Monday, June 28, 2010

More information on El Hogar v County of Sacramento lawsuit

Three blogposts ago in Sacramento Homeless blog I wrote about a Sacramento Bee article that alerted us to two civil suits filed against the county of Sacramento due to severe cutbacks for healthcare services for poor residents of the county.

Yesterday, I wrote about one of the civil suits, Poole v Sacramento County. Today, using information that is now online at the Sacramento Superior Court website, and other online sources, I'll sum up what the other suit, with the foreshortened name of El Hogar v County of Sacramento, is and means.

Documentation regarding the civil lawsuit El Hogar v County of Sacramento [Case # 34-2010-00080899 ] can be found at the Sacramento Superior Court website, saccourt.ca.gov . To find documents related to the case, click "View Civil and Probate Case Documents," then, in the field "CASE # FORMAT" enter 34-2010-00080899 as the number, and press Search.
The El Hogar lawsuit is filed as a complaint, seeking a "temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctions and declaratory relief" on behalf of four private, non-profit adult mental-healthcare organizations. The four organizations, known collectively as Regional Support Team, alledge that the county is required to use private organizations to provide mental-health services to poor and indigent citizens and not a county-operated facility, as the County of Sacramento proposes to begin doing on July 1, the first day of its forthcoming fiscal year.

The four private, non-profit adult mental-health care corporations that brought suit are these, which constitute the county's so-called Regional Support Team:

  • El Hogar Community Services, Inc. An outpatient mental-health agency serving adults in the Sacramento community who are experiencing severe and persistant mental illness. The organization runs three programs: (1) Guest House Homeless Clinic which serves homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless who have severe psychiatric challenges; (2) Serves downtown residents, as part of the county's Regional Support Team, to aid adults who meet criteria of needing mental health services; and (3) Sierra Elder Wellness Progam for older adults and some under 60 years of age who have multiple problems and are at risk of being victimized.1
  • Human Resource Consultants, Inc. As part of the Regional Support Team, HRC provides "medication and mental health services to adults who live in northeastern Sacramento County."2
  • Turning Point Community Programs, Inc. A non-profit mental-health agency providing "psychiatric services, support, employment, housing and advocacy to people with disabilities and their families." The organization operates six programs in Sacramento County: (1) Pathways to Success After Homelessness which "provides supportive housing and mental health services for those with psychiatric disabilities and long-term or cyclical homelessness."; (2) Transitional Support Services which provides "community support services to 235 adults challenged with co-occurring psychiatric disorders and developmental disabilities"; (3) Integrated Services Agency which provides "psychosocial rehabilitation services for adults with severe and persistent mental illness and extended histories of long-term hospitalization"; (4) Crisis Residential Program which "provides short term respite for mentally disabled adults who have become suicidal, critically depressed, or otherwise psychiatrically incapacitated" (5) is a part of Regional Support Team; and (6) Employment Services Program which supports Turning Point members with psychiatric disabilities so they may choose, obtain or retain employment.3
  • Visions Unlimited, Inc. is a part of Regional Support Team that provides services in the southern part of Sacramento County.4
Basically, two of the four plaintiffs are significant mental-health facilities, whereas services of the other two appear to be exclusively their part as participants of the Regional Support Team

In their suit, California Welfare and Institutions Code &sec; 5652.5 is prominently cited. It reads as follows [emphases, mine]:
(a)Each county shall utilize available private and private nonprofit mental health resources and facilities in the county prior to developing new county-operated resources or facilities when these private and private nonprofit mental health resources or facilities are of at least equal quality and cost as county-operated resources and facilities and shall utilize available county resources and facilities of at least equal quality and cost prior to new private and private nonprofit resources and facilities. All the available local public or private and private nonprofit facilities shall be utilized before state hospitals are used.
(b)Nothing in this section shall prevent a county from restructuring its systems of care in the manner it believes will provide the best overall care.
The County intends to create four so-called  Sacramento Wellness Centers to be staffed with county employees to provide clinic services, in replacement of the Regional Support Team.

Thus the lawsuit is a contest to determine who is to provide care to poor residents of the county, and is not about the level of care or its extent, though both sides in the lawsuit may have something to say on those topic as their points are argued before the judge.

Sacramento Homeless Blog will follow developments.

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1 Information taken from the "About Us" and "Programs" pages from El Hogar's website.
2 Information from the "About Us" page at Human Resource Consultants' website.
3 Information taken from the "FAQs" and "Programs" pages at the Turning Point Community Programs website.
4 Information taken from the homepage at the Visions Unlimited website.

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