Changes to Forms - Certificates Authorizing Transport To Emergency Receiving Facility
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On March 20, 2017, my 89 year old Father and I filed, with Probate court, a Form Two Party Affidavit (Certificate Authorizing Transport to Emergency Receiving Facility) for a mental, alcohol or drug related evaluation and possible involuntary commitment to a treatment facility.
The recipient of this petition was my 55 year old brother, who was a severe alcoholic and severely depressed. Prior to this, I had emailed the Chief Clerk of Probate Court asking her to explain how the process would work. I was told, via email, that two witnesses must submit written Affidavits within a 48 hour period upon seeing the recipient and complete the Form 1013. The Judge would then review and, if in agreement, would sign off on it, leading to an "Order to Apprehend". I was also told, via email, that the recipient would be taken to the mental health facility and held for a "required 72 hour evaluation." Our family was failed miserably! The Judge approved the order, and I was handed a sealed envelope and was told to take it to the Sheriff's Department and drop it off. After doing exactly that, I received a phone call later that evening from a Sheriff's Deputy stating that he did not have all the forms required. He explained that he must have the original signed order by the Judge (he only had a copy), and he must have the written Affidavits attesting to what my Father and I had witnessed within the last 48 hours. I told him that I would contact the court the next morning to find out where these documents were. When I called the next morning and inquired, the Chief Clerk told me that the Probate Judge was no longer sending the Affidavits to the mental health facility, because someone on staff at the mental health facility was sharing information with the patients with regard to whom was submitting the Affidavits, and then upon their release, the patients were threatening family members. However, the Judge did not inform the Sheriff's Department nor the mental facility that they would no longer be sending the Affidavits, nor was I made aware of this initially.
END RESULT => My brother was taken to the hospital emergency room instead of to the mental facility. He was kept for approximately 2-3 hours and "evaluated" by the attending physician on duty and a counselor from the mental facility who came over to the emergency room. My Brother stood 6 feet/7 inches tall and only weighed approximately 125-130 pounds and was very clearly ill. He was able to convince the physician and the counselor that he was a "functioning" alcoholic and had his drinking under control. To the contrary, he had nothing under control! To add insult to injury, my brother had just lost his wife 3 weeks earlier to Stage IV bladder and brain cancer, so he was also severely depressed! After 2-3 hours, they saw no reason to keep him, he was discharged and sent home (this was after registering a .14 a couple of weeks earlier at the emergency room when his wife was admitted for the last time, in which she never came home, but died from her cancer a few days later). My Father called my brother the next day, and my brother answered the phone long enough to tell him to leave him alone, or he would file a restraining order against him. Exactly one week to the day, March 28, 2017, while 6-8 Sheriff Officers stood on the curb of my Brother's home, I shattered a window, breaking into my Brother's home, injuring my hand, to find him deceased from a morphine overdose (his late wife's medication from her cancer). Not a single one of these officers broke in the home, nor were any of them by my side when I broke the window and made entry into my brother's home, not knowing what I would find. Instead, they all stood on the curb 50 yards away! He could have been holding a weapon on me, thinking that someone was breaking into his home, he could have had a gunshot wound to his head or he could have been hanging. It was traumatic enough to find him slumped over in his chair, as he had been deceased for a couple of days.
BOTTOM LINE => A 2 to 3 hour evaluation for someone with mental health issues, alcohol or drug dependence is not nearly enough time to determine if an individual needs to be placed into treatment. Just as it is written that there is a maximum 72 hour hold, there should also be a minimum requirement for which to hold and evaluate (and it may be different based on the circumstances). One key element missing from our piece of the puzzle - our written Affidavits NEVER made it to the emergency receiving facility for evaluation. Anyone, in their right mind, knows that an alcohol or drug dependent individual can convince you that the moon is made out of swiss cheese and have you believing them! The written Affidavits MUST ACCOMPANY THE ORDER!!!
MY OBJECTIVE => In an effort to keep any other individual from dieing unnecessarily and to keep other families from the pain, grief and anguish that we have endured, help me to amend the procedure for filing the forms necessary for involuntary commitment so that it is the same, across the board, in every county in the State of Georgia, and not "subject to interpretation!" As I understand it, the current code/statute allows the court, within any given county to decide, based on its own interpretation of the code, as to the length of time an individual is evaluated and as to whether or not the Affidavits should accompany the order.
HOW YOU CAN HELP MY CAUSE => Help me find some justice for my brother, Ben, (a.k.a. "Leo") - his first nickname as a toddler. Please sign my petition if you agree that a minimum amount of time must be established for holding/evaluating an individual for mental health, alcohol or drug abuse, and if you agree that the written Affidavits must be submitted and reviewed, and possibly the authors contacted for additional information, as part of the evaluation process by the medical professionals for involuntary commitment.
Let's amend this code/statute on our books, and help me establish
Thank you for your time, Jennifer "Jenna" Kopp (Dacula, GA)
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