Some people have the disposition of spending the years that is supposed to be the best years of their lives in the Psych Ward; and once they get out the Psych Ward and is placed in the Support House one would think that they would enjoy being free and live their lives. But at times there is no explanation of how someone behaves; especially if they are mentally ill. The behavior that is exhibited is not what one would expect..
May an older woman in her early sixties, was diagnosed with a type of schizophrenia at a young age. Her condition was so unstable that she was admitted to the Psych ward. Her stay in the Psych Ward was extremely lengthy; in fact she was in the Psych Ward for almost thirty years. Spending her core years in the restrictive environment like the Psych Ward is almost like being a prisoner without committing a criminal act. Yet, many Psych Ward patients like Dora feels safe within the Psych Ward walls; they get fed, and some type of attention from the Psych Ward staff and they don’t have to face the challenges that present itself in the real world. They do not want to leave and will resist any attempts to be discharged.
Almost thirty years from the time May was admitted to the Psych Ward, her mental condition finally became stable enough that the Psych Ward determined that she could be discharged. Before that happened it was recognized that May will need help; at least she can live some type of life being semi-independent. Before she was discharged arrangements was made for her to become a resident of the Support House.
May has been living in the Support House for a couple of weeks now, she was placed on the meal plan so that she can eat as a courtesy until her Supplementary Security Income (SSI) and food stamps kicks in, after that she would have to be charged for her meals. Overall it looks like she is fitting in, but it seems a bit overwhelming to her.
It was a Monday evening about 30 minutes into the evening shift when the Support House Director called the medication manager Jimmy and said that May has not been seen since Friday. The Director asked Jimmy to call the Police to make a missing person’s report. Then she said after making the missing person’s report to the Police, to call the Justice Center and let them know that May is missing. Jimmy did what he was instructed to do.
Around an hour later two Police Officers arrived from the local precinct, they came to do a missing person’s report. The Officers were told the information what was given to Jimmy. However there was not a lot of information on May. She has been a resident at the support house for only 3 weeks. There is no family or next of kin listed except for a reference that she has siblings living in Georgia. No names or addresses were listed. Also May’s chart made reference of her having three children but no names or addresses. Also the support house staff did not follow their own protocol of taking a photo of May when she moved in. So there was very little information about May was given to the Police.
The Officers asked to see her unit; they were taken up to the unit and the cops searched it. The room did not have much in it; there were no sheets on the bed, any pots or pans; and the little clothes that she had were in the bureau. The Cops asked if there was access to the roof. They went up to the roof and searched it and in the maintenance areas. Jimmy wonders why the Police choose to search those areas, they are under lock and key and it would take great effort if a resident wanted access to those off limit areas.. Where could this woman who spent almost thirty years in the Psych ward go? She has no ties to the community; she is unfamiliar with the area and does not have experience taking public transportation. The Cops did all they can given the circumstances. They got the names and numbers of the outpatient clinic she goes too; and the treatment team from the Psych Ward to follow up. Then they left
Later on that evening the Cops that responded returned; this time they had their Sergeant with them. The Sargent was unhappy with the information that was provided. The Sergeant said how is it the Support House called the Police to report that May is missing but did not give enough information to help them locate her.
The Sergeant asked if it is a possibility that May could have returned to the Psych Ward where she came from. Jimmy stated that is highly impossible. The Psych Ward is located in an isolated area on Staten Island. It is a secured facility and May would have to go through security to gain access.
The Sergeant asked if they can see the video footage to see the exact time when May left the building. Jimmy does not have access to the video footage; only the Director and Supervisor do. The Sergeant has that look on her face as to think something fishy is going on. Maybe she is going to find some type of probable cause to give her an excuse to search the entire Support House building including each resident’s room. Jimmy called the Director, but she said that she couldn’t come in and that nobody else was on call, so the Police would have to wait until Tuesday to view the footage.
The sergeant was adamant that neither she nor her Officers will leave the Support House until they see the video footage. The Sergeant was determined to get an accurate description of May and verify if she actually left the Support House. The Police presence was making Jimmy nervous; he knows that the Police will start to become ignorant and see if they can provoke some type of incident as an excuse to impose themselves and do whatever they want.
Jimmy calls the Director again, this time he puts the Sergeant on the phone so that they can work out what needs to be done. A short time later the phone was passed back to Jimmy; before he hung it up the Director said that someone will come in to give them the video feed. Thirty minutes later the Director came in and played the video that showed the exact time May walked out of the Support House; the video also gave the Police an accurate description of May and what clothes she was wearing; so now the Police have enough information so that they can issue a “be on the lookout (BOLO) alert.
Overall between the Psych Ward and the Support House the ball was dropped as far as May was concerned. Everyone involved has documented that May is a flight risk, but no one took any precautions, but it all comes down to the Psych Ward releasing another mentally ill person who was not ready to be released. There is very little that the Support House could do once a resident walks out the building and does not return.
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