Friday, June 25, 2010

More information on Poole v Sacramento County, the case that, if successful, would force the county to pay for indigent healthcare services

Information has now been posted online, at the Sacramento Superior Court website, regarding the lawsuit where two indigent women and Loaves & Fishes are suing the County of Sacramento to force that government entity to provide adequate healthcare services for the poor.

In its Petition for Writ of Mandate [the opening salvo in the lawsuit which outlines the grievances of the petitioners ( Rhonda Poole, Jane Bryant-Dubose and Sacramento Loaves & Fishes); what laws or statutes are being ignored; and what remedies are sought] the attorneys for the petitioners, from Legal Services of Northern California and Western Center on Law and Poverty, cite California Welfare and Institutions Code §10000 and §17000 and as rule that the County is ignoring or overriding by not providing adequate services.

Section 10000 [really just the general purpose information, followed by page upon page of instruction] reads thus:
The purpose of this division is to provide for protection, care, and assistance to the people of the state in need thereof, and to promote the welfare and happiness of all of the people of the state by providing appropriate aid and services to all of its needy and distressed. It is the legislative intent that aid shall be administered and services provided promptly and humanely, with due regard for the preservation of family life, and without discrimination on account of ancestry, marital status, political affiliation, or any characteristic listed or defined in Section 11135 of the Government Code. That aid shall be so administered and services so provided, to the extent not in conflict with federal law, as to encourage self-respect, self-reliance, and the desire to be a good citizen, useful to society.
Section 17000 [general purpose information] reads thus:
Every county and every city and county shall relieve and support all incompetent, poor, indigent persons, and those incapacitated by age, disease, or accident, lawfully resident therein, when such persons are not supported and relieved by their relatives or friends, by their own means, or by state hospitals or other state or private institutions.
Other Code, including Health & Safety Code, are cited in the Petition, which, in its core part, is fifteen pages in length.

Documentation regarding the civil lawsuit Poole v Sacramento County [Case # 34-2010-80000580 ] 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 34-2010-80000580 as the number, and press Search.
It is explained in the Petition that Ms. Poole has standing to sue because she is indigent, residing in the Salvation Army shelter in Sacramento and was diagnosed with colon cancer in June, 2009.  Ms. Poole has suffered two events of excruciating pain and still has not had adequate medical intervention to address the cancer which afflicts her.

Ms. Bryant-Dubose suffers from "ulcerative colitis and uses a walker due to a degenerative knee condition."  The Petition reads, "… If not managed properly, ulcerative colitis can result in massive bleeding, severe illness, rupture of the colon and cancer. Ms. Bryand-Dubose has not been able to be seen by her treating physician, a gastroenterologist, for several months because CMISP [Sacramento County Indigent Services Program] has not scheduled the monthly appointments she needs.

Loaves & Fishes claim of standing in the lawsuit is because their outreach clinic, staffed by one nurse [Suzi], will be overwhelmed if cuts to county services are allowed to go forward, such that contageous disease might spread through the Loaves & Fishes compound.1

Relief the Petition seeks is basically this:
Prohibit the closure of Del Paso Health Center and South City Health Center; prohibit the elimination of services at Primary Care Center; prohibit the elimination of CMISP case-management services; prohibit the reduction of provider hours at Dental Clinic; prohibit the reduction of hours at Radiology Clinic.

Otherwise, the suit asks that the County be instructed to meet its obligations under the Welfare and Instituions Code and the Health and Safety Code.

And, of course, very understandably, it asks that the county pay for attorney costs of the Petitioners related to the legal action.
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1 Loaves & Fishes' standing in the case seems surprizingly weak. I am glad L&F isn't claiming to represent homeless people, generally - because I don't think they do. And I think the likelihood that a contagious disease might be on the loose in the L&F Compound if healthcare services to the poor aren't improved, as compared to what's projected, is unlikely to the point of being infintesimal.  Still, I'm glad L&F is party to the lawsuit since it does broaden the suit beyond just two women.  Otherwise, the County could just offer healthcare services to those two persons and satisfy the the breadth of the complaint.

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