This is a post found on my Flickr stream dated 2011.
The image is signed by Mateo.
It was shot with a Blackberry and colored to compensate for low resolution.
I could tell from the fact that she was wearing scrubs and hospital booties that she had just been released from either Psychiatric Emergency or an inpatient unit at San Francisco General Hospital. Psych patient’s get scrubs if they arrive at the Emergency Room in filthy clothing and are held overnight or for a week. The clothing is washed but often it’s so ragged that it’s tossed out. I could see that this woman was disorganized and perhaps medicated.
Her gait was unbalanced and one of the pant legs had wrapped itself around her foot.
Thankfully, she made it across the street before she fell.
Here’s how the law works: it protects her rights by providing a judge who will overlook the fact that she is so ill she can barely keep herself alive on her own.
He will ask her if she is suicidal and she will say no.
He will ask her if she is homicidal and she will say no.
He will ask her if she has access to food and she will say yes and if asked where she will say a local soup kitchen.
He will ask her if she has housing and she will say yes and when he asks where she will give the address of a local shelter—even if she doesn’t have a bed reserved.
He will then lift the hold and off she goes in her fresh new scrubs to die some more on the rich clean streets of San Francisco.
And the doctors and lawyers and judges can feel good that this patient’s right to refuse treatment is once again protected from the encroachment of common sense.
I grabbed this shot with my Blackberry just before she fell.
Because psych beds are so scarce the average length of stay in the ER for a patient on a hold can be as long as 34 hours.
The average cost of a visit to the ER is about $2,000 an hour excluding the cost of the evaluation, medications and the cost of the dedicated security guard who must stand watch over the patient for the entire time he is there.
The cost of one day on an inpatient unit is over $1,000 excluding medications, the cost of evaluation, and placement, if any.
So who is getting rich from this brutal mental health system?
Our suffering crystallized like honey into profit.
The Million Dollar Homeless Patient
Stop Criminalizing the Mentally Ill