Saturday, August 1, 2009

Otty Sanchez Was Not a Threat to Herself or Others? (I. E. Who's Responsible for Baby Scotty's Death?)

"was not a threat to herself or others." - It is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than it is for a person to get into a psychiatric hospital. Otty Sanchez went to the ER in psychiatric crisis a few days prior to killing her baby. She was released the same day because she "was not a threat to herself or others." Is the hospital to blame? We obviously do not know all the facts, so it is not fair to criticize this hospital's crisis response. After all, they cannot predict the future. They just represent a dwindling resource - psychiatric bed days.

Our mental health care system is screwed up - not necessarily FUBAR, but definitely screwed up. The less money appropriated, the more expensive it becomes. It is toward the end of the fiscal year and money appropriated for indigent hospital bed days are gone except for the most critical crisis calls. Perhaps if this would have occurred in September, after the new fiscal year, then possibly Baby Scotty would still be alive today. Who's to say? If Otty Sanchez stayed in the hospital a few weeks it would have cost less than $5000, but now, taxpayers will be paying millions. Most importantly, though, you cannot put a dollar figure on a baby's life (but isn't that what we have done?).

Who is accountable for Baby Scotty's death? Is it Sanchez? Is it her family for not intervening more? Is it Buchholz for not doing more? Is it law enforcement? Is it the hospital for not admitting her? Is it you and me for not supporting mental health legislation more? So, before we criticize the ER staff / crisis response team, maybe we need to look in the mirror. Did you tell your legislator to support mental health?

From the Houston Chronicle:

Mother accused of murder no stranger to authorities

In the days before Otty Sanchez killed her 4-week-old son and mutilated his body, there were at least two major incidents where her behavior triggered a crisis response by doctors and police.

Yet, in each case, Sanchez slipped through the cracks and returned to her baby Scott W. Buchholz Sanchez at a near North Side home, where police said she killed the infant Sunday morning while her mother, sister, and two other young children apparently slept.

Mental health experts said there's no way to know whether the slaying of Scott Wesley Buchholz Sanchez could have been avoided.

But family, doctors and police certainly had opportunities to intervene as when the tragic series of events began unfolding in the week before Sanchez allegedly decapitated "baby Scotty" and ate parts of his body.

On July 20, after doctors at a local clinic determined Sanchez, 33, was having a severe mental breakdown, she was transported to the Metropolitan Methodist Hospital emergency room, but released the same day.

"I can't confirm details of her treatment or what happened," said JoAnn King, a hospital spokeswoman.

A source familiar with the investigation but unauthorized to speak to the media said she should have remained hospitalized, but the ER staff thought she "was not a threat to herself or others."

"A lot of people are still wondering why they let her go," the source said.

No comments: