Tag Archives: suicide

Deadly Delays: Kaiser’s Flawed Model for Care

East Bay Express Image In its August 13-19, 2014 issue, East Bay Express published the first in a two-part series on the serious problems with Kaiser’s mental health services.

A Flawed Model for Care

Kaiser Permanente has been held up as a national model for healthcare, but critics contend that it routinely fails to adequately serve patients with mental health problems.

By Jake Nicol

Fred Paroutaud had a gift. Music was a language he had been speaking his entire life. He loved the way he could express himself with his long fingers and piano keys. Tall and slim with salt-and-pepper hair, the Richmond resident had even found a way to make a successful living from it: composing scores for television and movies.

Yet despite having no history of mental illness or drug addiction, Paroutaud suffered a psychotic breakdown at age 57. Unsure of what was happening, his wife, Susan Futterman, took him to see his regular doctor at their health provider Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael and was referred to the emergency room. ER staffers then promptly sent Paroutaud to a private, Kaiser-contracted psychiatric facility in Vallejo — St. Helena Hospital Center for Behavioral Health. During Paroutaud’s 72-hour stay at the facility, doctors diagnosed him with having bipolar disorder, otherwise known as manic-depressive illness. Yet despite the fact that Paroutaud was still suffering from hallucinations, doctors discharged him.

Kaiser mental health therapists put Paroutaud in an intensive outpatient group therapy program that included four-hour-a-day sessions four days a week. But most of the other patients in the program were recovering from substance abuse, so Paroutaud felt out of place. He requested to see a therapist one-on-one. Instead, doctors prescribed him with medication, which proved ineffective. Soon he stopped taking it.

Futterman didn’t know what to do with him. He was no longer the confident, caring husband she knew. One day, she found him standing alone in the kitchen of their home in the city’s Point Richmond district, staring at the floor, his eyes unfocused. He was getting worse.

Paroutaud’s unresponsiveness worried Futterman more than his psychotic outbursts. He had a large group of friends that he suddenly had no interest in. He had been an avid vintage car enthusiast and owned a 1967 Lamborghini that he restored himself. He had even helped create an online forum about vintage Lamborghinis. But he had become consumed by a deep depression and was no longer interested in his hobby.

Futterman called Kaiser and asked to set up an appointment between Paroutaud and his psychiatrist. She said she was told that the psychiatrist was on vacation and that no one was covering his patients while he was away. Kaiser staffers recommended that Paroutaud return to group therapy and continue taking his medication. She said she was told repeatedly that Kaiser doesn’t offer one-on-one therapy.

Desperate, Futterman called Kaiser every day for two weeks begging to have her husband seen by a therapist. On June 28, 2012, exactly two months after Paroutaud’s initial breakdown, Futterman came home to find her husband in their living room hanging from a rope tied around his neck. She cut him down and frantically tried to revive her husband with CPR.

It was too late. Paroutaud’s suicide was a tragic end to his brief-yet-intense battle with mental illness.

To read the full story, click here: A Flawed Model for Care.

 

Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane Given Mental Health Award

“Marine Veteran Matthew Jensen and Shirlee Zane receiving California State NAMI awards…”‘We both share the same vision…to end suicide and remove stigma from mental illness…both Kaiser and the VA need to stop rationing care, provide parity or equal mental health treatment….saving 1,000’s of lives and preventing needless suffering.'” ~ Suervisor Zane (Sonoma County Gazette, August 1, 2014).

The National Association on Mental Health has announced that it is giving Sonoma County Supervisors Shirlee Zane its 2014 Recovery Practitioner of the Year award. Zane has recently spoken out about the poor quality of Kaiser’s mental health services. To read the full story, click here: “Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane Receives Mental Health Award.”

 

 

Santa Rosa Press Democrat Covers Problems with Kaiser’s Mental Healthcare

WeiskoffThe Press Democrat recently published a number of stories covering the problems with Kaiser’s mental health services. Martin Espinoza, in “Kaiser’s mental health care at heart of dispute,” published on June 14, 2014, tells Andy Weisskoff’s story. Weisskoff, a psychotherapist, recently announced his intention to resign from his job at Kaiser because of his first-hand experiences with the declining quality of care being provided to Kaiser’s mental health patients. Most prominently, Weiskoff cited understaffing of Kaiser’s mental health services, resulting in excessive wait times for appointments and patients being improperly assigned to group therapy when individual therapy would be most appropriate. Once he’d announced his resignation, Weiskoff wrote over 60 blog posts detailing the problems at Kaiser. Visit his blog by clicking here: 90 Days to Change. (You can read the full Press Democrat article here: Kaiser’s mental health care at heart of dispute).

ZaneIn June, The Press Democrat also reported on the criticisms of Kaiser expressed by Santa Rosa County Supervisor Shirlee Zane. Zane accused Kaiser of failing her husband, Peter Kingston, which led to his suicide in January, 2011. Zane revealed that Kaiser did not ask her husband if he had previously ever attempted suicide, made him wait for more than 40 days for his first one-on-one appointment, and did not effectively monitor doses of his medication. Given these serious failures by Kaiser, Zane, who is also a trained family counselor and grief specialist, questioned whether or not Sonoma County’s should contract with Kaiser Permanente. (Read the news stories about Shirlee Zane: Supervisor Shirlee Zane critical of Kaiser, therapist and Shirlee Zane questions county’s Kaiser contract after mental health dispute).

Kaiser patient in Georgia files lawsuit against the HMO for inadequate psychiatric care

In March of 2014, Alex Blatt, 70, and his brother-in-law, Murray Deustch, filed a lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Georgia for the poor mental health care services Mr. Blatt received from Kaiser. As a result of Kaiser’s inadequate care, in March of 2012, Mr. Blatt had a “psychotic episode in which he killed his wife Eva and attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrists.” (Source: Blatt v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc.)