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Demonstrators accuse county Behavioral Health Services officials of mismanaging cases

March 28, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

Eight demonstrators gathered outside of county Behavioral Health Services offices this morning complaining about management of their cases.

"I tried to talk to the director, Michael W. Horn, but I got the run-around," group leader Gerardo Soto said.

Soto, of El Centro, said he was upset because he tried to see Horn Friday but Horn was not available. He said he left a message but did not get an answer.

Horn said he was not aware of Soto's message but Behavioral Health has hundreds of clients.

"There are patients rights advocates. If they have a complaint about something that's happened, they can talk to an advocate, supervisors of the particular Behavioral Health unit or they can talk to me," he said.

Each clinic has signs posted telling patients of their rights and the patient process, Horn said.

Soto said he was given the patient advocate's name and phone number but the advocate said he would have to write a grievance letter and would get a response in 30 days.

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"I did not want to wait 30 days," Soto said.

Another demonstrator, Virginia Davis, said she asked for crisis intervention in May 2001 but still has not received the help she needs.

Davis said she has been living in a motel in El Centro, surrounded by drug deals and $10 prostitutes, without electricity since April 2001.

"I can't get well where I'm at," she said.

Davis said she wants to get out of the motel and become an independent member of the community.

She said demonstrating was particularly hard for her since she suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces or public places.

"I'm not enjoying this, but this is very important to me," Davis said.

Horn said there is definitely a shortage of housing for low-income people in El Centro.

"We have a recovery center that helps people get on their feet, and a work training center," he said.

Horn said he would contact the people involved in the demonstration this afternoon and try to work out the problems.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com

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