Friday, March 06, 2009

NC Mental Health reform, using Community Support Services, has created possibilities that were not there before

This, essentially, is a carbon copy statement of Doug Sea's (Director of Legal Services, Central Piedmont Legal Services):

"...As to the larger, systemic problem that you've identified, DRNC is aware of the many problems brought about by mental health reform, and endeavors to address as many as we are able. It is true that many people with mental illness are currently living in Adult Care Facilities and Nursing Facilities. It is also true that many of these individuals could successfully transition to a less restrictive environment in the community if provided with appropriate supports. ...."

John Rittelmeyer Director of Legal Services Disability Rights NC


I maintain that in fact, NC Mental Health Reform has (unwittingly) driven the car further along and this took place whe Community Support Services were created as a result of NC Mental Health Reform.

The below outlines a discussion pertaining to an illuminating statement by attorney, Steve Gold, disabled, who is in PA. Mr. Gold has outlined that ADA's core principal of assuring disabled people of "THE MOST INTEGRATED SETTING" is what is at stake here.

Gold has outlined some of the housing difficulties that disabled people encounter---as a result of laws overseeing housing across the US----at this site:

If disabled people were better integrated into the community (read: had access to independent or housing of their choice via Section 8 housing), then the Family Care Homes would not be warehousing disabled people ---many who could take care of themselves if the support services CREATED IN PART BY NC MENTAL HEALTH REFORM were allowed to function.

Moreover, they obviously cannot function if the Community Support Services workers and the psychologist who goes out to the Family Homes is being blocked from talking to or seeing her clients----which is what is taking place in western NC.

In fact, NC Mental Health Reform has positively impacted the situation in terms of moving mental health services OUT INTO the community rather than requiring the person requesting mental health services to COME INTO the mental health center.

I don't think this can be over stated enough given all the challenges that NC Mental Health Reform has set into motion.

In an attempt to follow through on this discussion with Disability Rights NC, and as per an e mail letter from : John Rittelmeyer Director of Legal Services
Disability Rights NC2626 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 550 Raleigh, NC 27608
Phone: 919-856-2195 TTY: 1-888-268-5535 Fax: 919-856-2244

.............and as re: the statement after Mr. Rittelmeyer's letter to me indicating that the information cannot be disseminated, I present this letter back to him which explains, as best I can, w/ no legal training, my understanding of just how NC Mental Health reform, by instituting Community Support Services has indeed OPENED THE DOOR to the addressing of the lack of "most integrated setting" for disabled people in NC.


Marsha V. Hammond, PhD: Clinical Licensed Psychologist cell phone: 404 964 5338 e mail:

March 6, 2009

Dear. Mr. Rittelmeyer of Disability Rights, NC (DRNC) :

I enclose your e mail letter to me as a point of reference.

A client of mine, last name ---------, living at ------------------ NC, contacted DRNC on Wednesday afternoon, March 4, 2009 at approximately 4 pm.

I would like to submit that you would have a lot more complaints if the residents could be assured of the heat not coming back on them.

I have another client who lives at that ------------------ location who would also like to talk to an intake person. However, the heat on the Endorsed Provider company providing Community Support Services is now so intense coming from the direction of -------- Homes, and this other client is a big talker, said client would simply turn up the heat until the pot starts to boil over.

So, my question: do you have information that could start a file or not? And if not, what else do you need?

I understand that the only people who can create a 'case' are people who are directly effected.

This being said, and as associated with my admittedly limited current ability to read and understand 42 U.S.C. 1983, pertaining to civil rights, my own ability to provide mental health treatment to my clients is also being affected. This may not be associated with civil rights, which, I assume, is affiliated with those who are directly affected by untoward treatment such as is taking place at ------- Homes----not just at the Leicester NC location but the ------ Asheville NC home also.

My understanding, as per what Anthony of DRNC stated on Wednesday afternoon as we were signing off of the phone call, is that the file, which is assumably open, is under the name, ---------. Anthony also stated that all matters were 'individualized' and I do not know how that effects the 'accumulation', if you will of information pertaining to a possible class action suit or anything akin to class action matters.

As you can tell, I am not an attorney and I do not talk that vernacular.

So, I assume that a file has been opened. Am I correct? If so, now what happens?

Moreover, the matter of people w/ mental health challenges having their civil rights affected is not "due to NC Mental Health Reform" but I believe is indeed due to events that took place associated w/ Wyatt v Stickney (1972) whereupon people who had been in psychiatric hospitals were released into the community and then lo and behold someone came along e.g., Family Care Homes, ready to 'rise to the occasion' and warehouse the disabled people in another manner.

In fact, I believe that NC Mental Health reform improved their lot for now they come into contact w/ Community Support Services which has, shall we say, opened their eyes to the possibilities of what could be theirs if they could be more independent. Quite obviously, there is in the background a gigantic tug of war as to monies and who will profit from they being in places like Family Care Homes versus being in Section 8 housing-----where they could be more independent----a matter which is closely tied to ADA.

Here is some information by a Mr. Gold, apparently a disabled attorney residing in PA who write on this matter quite tellingly. It is also on my blog. His address:;

Some of his collected writings:

"...North Carolina : $561 OSS for an adult care home (basic), $674 for a"disenfranchised" adult care home, and $958 OSS for a special care unit adult care home.

......there are 17 states that pay a monthly optional state supplement ONLY if the person on SSI resides in a "community institution" or group setting. These states pay NO optional state supplement if the person lives in the community. In these states, older Americans and persons with disabilities in the community receive only the federal benefit rate, but if they were institutionalized in assisted living facilities, personal care boarding facilities, foster care homes, domiciliary care facilities, these institutions would receive both the federal benefit rate and the following optional state supplement (OSS) for each person.

...Why would States want to pay an optional state supplement to "community institutions", such as assisted living facilities, personal care boarding facilities, foster care homes, domiciliary care facilities? How do such payments satisfy the ADA's "the most integrated setting" mandate? Aren't such payments another form of institutional bias that we have seen in other situations?Supporting these "community institutions" perpetuates discrimination against persons with disabilities and older Americans...."

Thus, Mr. Rittelmeyer: the crux of the matter is this (and its not NC Mental Health Reform to be blamed but rather what I believe requires greater scrutiny is ADA's notion of 'most integrated setting' )------and indeed, NC Mental Health Reform's intention is to bring mental health into the community----without which DRNC would not have had a call this past Wednesday afternoon, pertaining to a disabled person's outline of what are, potentially, civil rights violations.

I am looking forward to your responses, Mr. Rittelmeyer.


Marsha V. Hammond, PhD


Blogger SBL BPO said...

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