Wednesday, March 04, 2009

When the county DSS can't act on complaints re: Family Homes warehousing mental health residents: WHAT TO DO

Marsha V. Hammond, PhD: Licensed Psychologist: E mail:

RE: complaint line for Family Homes which passes information to DSS and NC Division of Health Service Regulation: telephone # for complaints is: 1800 624 3004, press option 4 for Family Homes

March 3, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

I have filed a specific set of complaints w/ the 'State Involvement' regulatory agency, 1800 624 3004, this afternoon, pertaining to being blocked from working with my clients at WNC Homes.

I was advised to do this by Kayce Cowan of the Buncombe county office associated with NC Division of Health Service Regulation. I cited the below two recent incidents as associated with my filing.

Specifically, I am concerned that the county DSS does not have the 'teeth' to tackle the problems obviously being inflicted upon residents of Family Homes who have mental health challenges.

DSS Buncombe Adult Protective Services wants to 'set up a meeting' w/ myself and the administration of WNC Homes----the same ones who called the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department in order to have me removed from 'their' property as I was having a therapy session w/ a resident.

I don't think a 'meeting' is going to do anything. And indeed, WNC Homes' administration's behavior is accelerating and not in the direction of 'let's get along.'

Ms. Cowan indicated, as per an investigation of WNC Homes, Country Time Lane, Leicester, NC, which took place about a week ago, that there were matters of concern to the NC Division of Health Service Regulation and that the public would have access to that report, via Buncombe DSS's Cheryl Simcox, after the report had been given to WNC Homes administration.

My initial matters of concerns as associated w/ clients of WNC Homes, Leicester, NC, as well as another home of theirs in Asheville, NC, has been pertaining to the correct and quick payment of residents' 'spending money' which is what is left over, basically, after their checks are utilized almost entirely for room and board. This is, I am convinced, what launched WNC Homes on their tirade against me. Its always a matter 'follow the money', it seems.

Residents of Family Homes use their disability checks, usually 95% or more of those disability checks, to pay for their room and board in Family Homes. This is not such a great deal if you realize that Section 8 housing for a one-bedroom efficiency in the heart of Asheville will cost them approximately $150/ month, leaving them w/ several hundred $$----rather than $20-----to spend.

If one wanted to really make an impact in terms of mental health, one would need to expand Section 8 housing and diminish the warehousing of people w/ mental health issues in the Family Homes whose administrators rule them like little fiefdoms who treat them like children, demanding they be in 'by supper time.'

In order to pay for the cost of the room and board which is a total of $1280/ month (a little raise was just put into effect, as per Kayce Cowan) the residents' social security money is complemented by a stream of money from the DSS's of the county where the Family Home is established.

Returning to the matter of 'follow the money', DSS Buncombe Adult Protective Services, oversees the 'financial books' on a quarterly basis, usually, of the Family Homes. A more detail investigation is launched when a formal complaint is made to the county DSS and at that point NC Division of Health Service Regulation becomes involved. A statement of concerns is issued to the administration of the Family Homes as associated with an investigation and then the information is available to the public via the DSS after that.

Apparently, WNC Homes launched its tirade against me, blocking me from contacts w/ my clients as pertaining to query letters I have written w/ residents pertaining to, basically, "Where's my money?"

Specific to this matter of 'Where's my money?'----one of the key concerns of residents in Family Homes-------I do not know of a single resident in the WNC Homes that is his own payee. Rather, WNC Homes has been declared, w/ the permission of the client, to be their payee, that is, to receive their social security checks.

Another client in another WNC Homes has consulted w/ Pisgah Legal Services in order to be re-assigned as his own payee. Out of his Social Security check, which is approximately $890/ month----an account which is based on his father's vesting in the Social Security System---a matter which assured his then 19 yr old son of disability benefits of a beefier nature than the much smaller SSI checks----that resident receives back about $40. That client was associated w/ one of the first letters I wrote to WNC Homes about the residents concerns over 'Where's my money?'----which they never answered.

In the charts of the WNC clients as with all Family Home residents, there is a 'Personal Finance Sheet' which has attached to it a detail list of medications from a pharmacy and the co-pays which are extracted from the resident's 'change.' Mostly, the co-pays are $3 but sometimes they take newer very expensive medication which can wreak havoc on the little pile of money which is a residents' spending money.

I still have no information on why residents who have only the approx $675 SSI checks receive about $20/ month in spending money (less when their co-pays for expensive psychotropic meds are taken out) and why others who receive Social Security Disability checks which are greater in sum, due to they having 'vested' by working into the Social Security System, receive usually this magical '$66'/ month across the board.

The regulatory agency for Family Homes in NC is: NC Division of Health Service Regulation . The chief of NC Division of Health Service Regulationf, as per Kayce Cowan, is:

Specifically, in House 11, WNC Homes, Country Time Lane, Leicester, NC, the following event took place around 3 pm on March 2, 2009. The Supervisor in charge refused to hand the phone to my client, W, who has a Consent for Treatment form as associated with me in her WNC chart. That resident is a Mild Mentally Retarded person who will be forwarded no information about how to remedy this matter.

Prior to that, on 2.22.09, at 1900 hours, when I was having therapy w/ my client, BRC, Hse 12, I was harrassed by the Supervisor in charge as she opened the door of the room in which I was having a private session, demanded I talk to the administrator of WNC Homes, which I refused to do. They called the Buncombe County sheriff's department; I called the emergency worker for Buncombe DSS. The sheriff escorted me off the property and the administrator, Jeff Clifton, advised me, via the sheriff, that if I came back on the property I would be arrestesd.

Re: item #2, on 3.3.09, Anthony Jones, Supervisor associated with the Endorsed Provider company which provides the Community Support Services for some of the clients at the Leicester NC WNC Homes, called to ask for the birthdate of BRC, in Hse 12, and was informed by the Supervisor in Charge that that the Endorsed Provider company "had been changed to another company", something which is at the sole discretion of the client. He was not allowed to speak w/ the resident.

More particularly, with the advent of NC Mental Health reform, which has, as an agenda, the moving of mental health services into the community rather than the clients going to the mental health center, it has become more pressing to be able to interface with residents of these Family Homes on the basis which is stated in the Family Home law. The Family Homes law states that Family Homes administrations are to 'cooperate' with providers. This is not my experience at all. Indeed, it is exactly the opposite.

subchapter 13G – licensing of family care homes


This afternoon, one of the residents of WNC Homes Hse 12, spoke w/ an intake person at Disability Rights NC as re: issues he had regarding not receiving his 'spending money' back from his check; sometimes it not being given to him at all; lots of 'hotdog' meals; medication issues.

The intake worker was Anthony and the file is under the last name of the client who spoke w/ the intake person at Disability Rights NC.

The other client who is interested in speaking w/ Disability Rights NC had a doctor's appointment this afternoon but will be contacting Disability Rights NC soon and will add to the file associated with the last name of the client who talked with someone today.

I had to ask for details of how this was going to (hopefully) be followed up by Disability Rights NC. The intake worker was eager to get off the phone after the most cursory of questions which basically was basically asking for the client's demographic information and an asking of the vague, 'Do you have some complaints'---as the client fumbled around in his memory for items associated w/ impoverishment that most people cannot begin to understand.

I guess I was expecting more given the vast challenges of getting the client to a phone w/ some privacy and away from the Family Home phone----a conversation which would have been overheard by everyone in the Family Home and in particular, by the Supervisor in Charge who would have promptly have called up the administration who would have then retaliated in an indirect manner against the client by more blocking of mental health services from that surly Dr. Hammond.

I was expecting and hoping for more of a structured interview from Disability Rights NC. I'm not the client; I can't get any complaint process started. I am simply a 'friend of the court.'

I understand that a legal service cannot 'pump' a client for information. On the other hand, when people have severe persistent mental health challenges which often include head injuries and memory problems and then on top of that they are taking mind-numbing psychotropic medications----a little solicitation of events and matters which might be important----would be in order.

Marsha V. Hammond, PhD: Clinical Licensed Psychologist, Asheville/ Waynesville


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