Then She Fell

Then She Fell

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

26 thoughts on “Then She Fell

  1. Hi, about 20 years ago here in Canada I had a friend who was gang raped, she was in so much distress she was found wandering the streets in the nude. The police picked her up and treated her like a criminal. I was called to get her some days later, after the police almost finished her off. I don’t think it has changed much.

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    1. I feel badly for anyone with a chronic illness who just wants a chance to have a life.

      This is why ‘Right to Die’ laws terrify me. I’ve seen how the concept of a ‘right’ becomes a weapon if we don’t have a system in place prevent the system from abusing the ‘right’.

      It seems short sighted to legislate the ‘right’ to die when we still don’t have the ‘right’ to access treatments.

      How much of a persons desire to die is directly related to suffering from inadequate care?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a about to do that. In a chest I have a stack of hand charted piano scores, charts and lyrics going back 40 years. I write my shoes, where computers do it now so it’s not necessary to really know music theory any more. Add electric drums our punch a button that plays chords and rhythms and you become an instant musician. It doesn’t seem like much fun that way. It’ll be fun going through old music. Maybe I can rework some of it. It’s fun haveing an art where you can see the stages of growth as it matures. Today, going through clippings I found an ad of me when I was playing at the Hyatt Regency in Houston (choke) 36 years ago. OMG! I am not that old! (er . .. Seasoned :-)) I play much better today, as I console myself lol. There has to be some benefit for aging!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Any of the audio I have of older music is on cassettes. I don’t have any way of transferring that. Maybe, though, I can rework some of it and I think the lyrics might be worth posting. Quite often music is autobiographical. It would be an interesting project to work on. I don’t think I would trade wisdom for youth. it’s a shame we can’t be born with wisdom first!

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      3. If you can grab a working cassette player to can get a y cable or an audio cable that you can use to connect to the input slot on your sound card. The other end of the cable will go into the ‘output’ slot on the cassette player.

        If the cassette player is a more traditional component piece then use a Y cable to connect it via the ‘input’ ‘output’ connections.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. uh oh, technical. All I have is an old walkman. I’ve been meaning to take them somewhere. I also have 1/4 in tapes and 2 inch recording studio tapes. There is probably only one pass on them before they disintegrate. They are 30-35 years old.

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  2. Disgusting.

    All “procedures” thus were followed
    My bile at this can’t be swallowed

    And how can anyone look in a mirror and say this is okay…?

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      1. Honestly, I don’t know how she can be OK. The system is not much better than it was in 2011.

        We’ve been noting the failure of out mental health system for close to forty years and yet people are still dying from it and we still pretend that we don’t know how to fix this.

        There is a 10 percent chance that a woman as ill as this woman was and homeless is still alive.

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    1. Thank you for the comment. I ask this question of how we can stand ourselves?

      The problem isn’t so much what we do the the designated ‘them’ whoever they may be in the moment.

      The problem is what our passive acceptance of brutality does to us and our children.

      If I’m correct, almost two generations of Americans have reached adulthood in a country that tosses it’s poor and elderly onto the streets.

      That’s the real horror of it.

      Our children not only think it’s normal; they also think there is no solution even though the solution to it is as obvious as rebuilding and re-funding the safety net
      that we were deceived into dismantling. When we don’t force capitalism to work for us; it will inevitably work against us.

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