Questions after 2 die, 1 hurt in county custody

January 31, 2017
Jeremiah Mobley's booking photo transferred to grey scale

Jeremiah Mobley’s booking photo transferred to grey scale

By KAREN VELIE

Editor’s Note: This is part one in a two-part series about San Luis Obispo County health services and sheriff department’s treatment of the mentally ill.

Two men died and a third man seriously injured himself while in county custody in January. A handful of county workers say the deaths and injury could have been prevented if San Luis Obispo County followed state guidelines for dealing with the mentally ill.

County employees, who requested anonymity because they fear retaliation, said that mentally ill inmates and patients are being mistreated and neglected by county staff. The mistreatment includes long-term isolation, incorrect and over medication and failure to provide adequate health care, the employees said.

Early last summer, police arrested 56-year-old Anthony Vazquez on a misdemeanor charge and booked him into the San Luis Obispo County Jail. However, a San Luis Obispo County Court dropped the charges and ordered Vazquez transferred to the county mental health facility.

On Oct. 5, county staff checked Vazquez into the county mental health facility and county doctors began prescribing medications to treat his mental health issues, sources said.

Several months later, Vazquez said he was feeling bad and began pleading to see a doctor other than the one at the county facility, telling staff and others that he thought he was dying.

“Anthony would ask, ‘Please don’t let me die in here,’ ” a source familiar with the events surrounding Vazquez’ death said.

However, mental health supervisory staff and the county conservator, who took control over Vazquez several weeks before he died, refused to allow Vazquez outside medical care, sources said. Dr. Eugene Edward Kercher, 77, hired to see patients at the facility, also failed to send Vazquez to a hospital or outside physician, sources said.

Following his decision not to provide Vazquez access to other health care providers, some county staffers questioned Dr. Kercher’s medical competency.

Several weeks ago, Vazquez’ blood pressure dropped. He was rushed to French Hospital Medical Center where he died as the result of a gastrointestinal bleed, sources said.

While county staffers question the treatment of patients at the county mental health facility, the mentally ill may fair worse at the SLO County Jail, county employees say.SLO County Jail

Andrew Chaylon Holland, 36, was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail in September of 2015 on a charge of resisting arrest. Holland suffered from schizophrenia and had been going through a change of medication, his family said.

While in the county jail, Holland was held in isolation and given ineffective medication, his family said. He then became combative with staff and was repeatedly charged with battery of an officer.

Shortly before Christmas, Holland was stripped and thrown naked into a small concrete cell with rubber padding, no bedding and a hole in the floor for his waste, sources said. After several weeks, deputies moved Holland out of the rubber room and back to his isolation cell.

On Jan. 10, a San Luis Obispo County Court ordered Holland into a mental health facility. He was not transferred.

The county mental health facility regularly refuses to receive inmates claiming either there are no beds available or licensing issues prevent the facility from accepting more inmates. As a result, the jail is out of compliance with California’s Title 15 regarding treatment of mentally ill inmates, according to a 2015 audit of the jail.

On Jan. 20, deputies moved Holland into the drunk tank to await transfer to the county mental health facility. However, staff from county mental health said there were no beds available and Holland was left naked and without a bed in the drunk tank for two days, sources said.

The 2015 state audit found that San Luis Obispo County has understaffed medical personnel at the jail. Both inmates and staff have suffered, the state audit found.

The jail was seriously understaffed on Jan. 22 when two medical emergencies occurred at about the same time. Jeremiah Mobley, an inmate who was locked naked in the rubber room, began to claw at his eyes. Medical staff was attending to Mobley when Holland collapsed and went into respiratory arrest at the other end of the jail complex, sources said.

The cause of Holland’s death has not yet been disclosed.

Mobley was later taken from his cell and transported to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. At Sierra, Mobley was evaluated and deemed safe to book into jail.

With his eyes bloodied and swollen, deputies booked Mobley into the county jail before transferring him to the county mental health facility. After spending one night in the custody of county mental health, a family member agreed to purchase Mobley a bus ticket to his home town. A county staffer then drove Mobley to the San Luis Obispo’s train station so that he could board a bus headed out of the county.

After several minutes on the bus, Mobley became combative and refused to sit down. The bus driver then asked Mobley to leave the bus, Manuel Reyes said. After spending more than an hour in the train station restroom, personnel called law enforcement officers who drove Mobley back to SLO County’s mental health facility.


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SLOBIRD

We have a facility that is sitting empty for about 9 years now, that once was used for a Youth Authority for troubled youth and certainly has enough space to house a decent number of these people. I know Paso wants it for sports fields, Cal Fire who already are using the back area, and then special interest groups. We have to make a stand and set our priorities. Does Paso have enough parks and sports field or are people’s life’s more important? Are special interest groups needing additional space more important than people’s life’s. There is a facility in our backyard that would be a great beginning to a extremely needed facility. The COUNTY should be researching and looking to secure the procurement of this facility for the poor, broken less fortunate of our society.


CentralcoastRN

The staff at the County Jail make FAR less money then staff at ASH or CMC. Not to mention that the staff DO INDEED face retribution for speaking their minds. Recruitment and retention is an issue there. It also seems that standard policies are not being followed.


The closing of MH institutions/hospitals was a BIG mistake. The patients at these facilities at least has access to food, shelter, healthcare, human contact and healthcare. Now the mentally ill are just out on the streets. Police are not trained to deal with the mentally ill, and yet they get all the funding to deal with this population. Mental health and social services keeps getting cut.


demiseofslo

Once again, the incompetence of the SLO Sheriff’s Department wide open for you all to see.

They can’t seem to handle anything without killing someone.

Swine!!


Gordo

The defunding of the metal health system in California which began under Governor Ronald Reagan has led us to the point of no return in terms of caring for mentally ill people and in resolving much of the homelessness that now plagues our streets. The cost in recreating the world-class Metal Health System that California used to have would force us to make fundamental cuts in other programs and services. Yep the money must be found to improve Mental Health Services in a state. The question then becomes how. Do we raise taxes and if so in what way. Do we send a proposition to the voters asking them to repeal Proposition 13 so that adequate funding would once again exist at the county level to find mental health services at the county level? Do we cut medical and transfer this money towards improve Mental Health Services? What is clear is that we cannot expect California jail and prison systems to operate as de facto metal health wards 4 people who cannot be let loose on the street and for whom there is no bed space available. The state of County Mental Health Services in San Luis Obispo County is particularly distressing. The shortage of bed space and the poor quality of metal health care has played this community for over 30 years. A good example of the failure of our mental health system occurred over 20 years ago in the city of San Luis Obispo. A young man named Wade Mcclave was hallucinating and expressing homicidal thoughts. Mcclave was placed into County Mental Health on a Hold by the family’s position. Under the law mcclave should have been ill for a minimum of 72 hours during which time and Metal Health assessment would have been done but because of apathy on the part of staff and inadequate housing the clave was stabilized with drugs and released a few hours after his commitment by the doctor. Later that night mcclave returned to his home in San Luis Obispo and using a steak Knife murdered his parents. There are many other examples that can be cited in the time since the mcclave murders but they all point to one catastrophic failure in the County Mental Health System. For the Board of Supervisors and County Administration to continue to neglect this important area of Public Safety is inexcusable and frankly downright criminal. In the last few weeks we have seen thousands of our fellow citizens take to the street to march in protest of the election of Donald Trump. Where is the same outrage on the part of our citizenry at the inadequate condition of our Mental Health Services and the danger that this inadequate system poses to all of us and our children.


Rawhide

Where is the same outrage…?

Soros isn’t paying them..


SLOBIRD

A couple of years ago I looked into the budget of the Country Mental Health Department. At that time we were spending about $43 MILLION annually in “Behavior Health” in this County. I looked it up again this morning and we are now spending $64 MILLION annually in a County of approximately 266,000 people. That is approximately $239,000 for every single person living in this County. Think about this! Where is the money is being spent? Who is getting the bulk of this money spend? We don’t have large facilities but extremely limited facilities! $239,000 is a lot of money for each and every person for one year… We have the money so the question has to be is it being spent in the most productive manner for the clients in need?


SLO County Behavior Health Budget 2016-17

http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/AD/Budget/2016-17+Budget/16-17+pro+Health.pdf


SLO County Population 2016

https://suburbanstats.org/population/california/how-many-people-live-in-san-luis-obispo-county


SpeakTruth

You math bro… It’s $240 per County resident, NOT $240,000!


SpeakTruth

Ugh, my spelling bro… *Your


SLOBIRD

Sorry for the error and thanks for the correction! Still, $64 MILLION for this County of 267,000 is a lot of money, which was the point! No question we should be doing a lot better with our resources.


SLO_Johnny

We shut down a great number of state mental hospitals in the name of civil rights. We were told that health clinics and new wonder drugs would work better. The budget for mental healthcare were slashed. Now, we use our jails and prison system to handle the mentally ill. The system is not the proper venue. California needs to re-institute the laws concerning involuntary commitment of mentally ill people and build the proper facilities. But we are broke and California will struggle to fund the state employees pension plans and pay the massive government debts and fund all of the social services that have been created.


RonHolt

I agree that reform is needed. However, it must be done cautiously.


I can see circumstances where, with an extremely “liberal” government (California, New York), they could throw the “Mental Illness” label on anyone who (as one example) wants to own an “assault rifle.” Conversely, a very “conservative” government (south Carolina, Kansas) could likewise classify something like “atheism” as a form of “Mental Illness.”


Sadly, the cost of rebuilding a good mental health system along with the resistance of those invested in what we do now will make it highly unlikely to occur. So expect the same dismal problems to keep recurring.


SnakePliskin

Such abhorrent treatment in the most exceptional, richest nation in the world is a disgrace. $Trillions spent on war, $Trillions spent on bankster giveaways, $Billions spent on corporate subsidies, but the US lets it’s homeless and mentally compromised individuals languish in inhumane jails, prisons and substandard, ill equipped and under funded mental health facilities.. USA, they’re #1…


BeenThereDoneThat

Wow clawed at his eyes!? This is sad. What do you do when you take everything away from a person wanting to do self harm (cloths, bed and other things fashioned to weapons) and they do this? Sadly I don’t see easy answers. And PLEASE don’t tell me 24/7 surveillance. To have one person, one on one is about impossible, given there could be more in isolation at same time. Give an honest and fair answer to this, not a just because answer, if you have one.


SnakePliskin

24/7 1:1 supervision is performed all the time in facilities which follow appropriate guide lines. That leaves out SLO Jail and most prisons in the US… Disgraceful treatment of fellow human beings…


Kaiser Bill

If the Sheriff has the money for a stupid boat he never uses, he should have money for 24/7 monitoring of mentally ill Jail wards.


rukidding

So, what is the answer to all of this? I’ve always been willing to listen to complaints although at the same time I would also like some suggestion on how to resolve the situation.

More than likely to this problem will be the lack of money.


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