Getting Medical Intervention to Those in Need
Posted by Councilmember Englander on February 16, 2018 at 11:33 AM
On Wednesday, City Council unanimously passed a Resolution I presented alongside four of my colleagues supporting the County's demand that the California legislature expand the definition of "gravely disabled" to include those cases of "medical treatment where the lack or failure of such treatment results in substantial physical harm or death." This expanded definition would allow officials to more effectively treat preventable causes of death among the homeless population particularly those suffering from mental illness.
This change to the grave disability law would include people who cannot access healthcare because of mental illness. It also would allow service providers and first responders to administer involuntary care to an individual if that person faces immediate harm or death without such care.
Medical intervention is the crucial missing piece as we seek to address the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. First responders cannot be effective in assisting those experiencing serious mental health crises if they cannot compel care for those unwilling or unable to help themselves. This change will allow us to deliver life changing services to those that need it most.
The need for this change is underscored in a January 10 report from the LA County Department of Mental Health that found that a "significant number" of the 831 deaths of homeless people in LA County last year were due to treatable medical conditions. When State law stops us from preventing individuals from dying on our streets, it's time to make a change.