Info supports motion in Mental Health case - News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Info supports motion in Mental Health case

by Mindy Aguon

There's more information that's been submitted to the U.S. District Court of Guam supporting a motion for receivership in the ongoing permanent injunction.  While District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall won't hear arguments on a motion for receivership filed by the plaintiffs in the permanent injunction case against the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities until December, the attorney for the plaintiffs has provided more information supporting their request.

Attorney Daniel Sommerfleck represents one of the plaintiffs in the case who has been fighting to get the government to provide proper treatment for the last seven years.  In the latest filing, Sommerfleck informs the court that there is a breakdown in the provision of services for his client and those "shortcomings" he says places his client in danger of harm.

The attorney details how Mental Health has not conducted needed evaluations, or multidisciplinary treatment team evaluations to his client for several years.  Additionally, he raised concern that his client recently walked away from his residential group home and was found roaming the streets by one of his relatives.

According to court documents, Sommerfleck alleges the care attendants at the home who were on duty had no idea that the consumer had left the secure group home environment, even after they were informed by a relative.  In addition, the lawyer says Mental Health never informed the service provider that his client is unable to chew food, which places him at a high risk of choking.  His client is also not on the list to see a dentist, despite needing dental treatment.

These examples along with dozens of concerns outlined in his original motion for receivership, Sommerfleck is hoping, will be enough for the judge to impose the receivership to force the government to start implementing plans and start making positive changes for not only his clients, but others in the community who need proper services.  Judge Marshall meanwhile issued several orders on Friday evening that forces mental health to address some of the concerns raised by Sommerfleck.

Mental Health Director Dr. David Shimizu must require a dentist to annually conduct dental exams and cleanings by February of next year.  Shimizu was also ordered to acquire a new residential group home facility that will accommodate at least eight residents by December 10.

By January of next year Shimizu must hire at least one occupational therapist, one physical therapist, and one speech therapist as well as appoint a full time quality assurance officer full inspecting facilities programs and services where consumers are treated or housed by December 1.

The court also ordered the Mental Health director to participate in weekly meetings beginning this week with court monitors and vendors and service providers of the residential group homes.

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