Pioneers and nationally recognized leaders in estate planning.

650.493.8070 local

800.244.9424 toll-free

San Francisco launches new conservatorship measures to help patients with mental illness

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell recently announced the addition of more conservatorship beds to help individuals who suffer from serious mental illnesses. He said with more than double the number of beds, there will be “real results” for ill patients.

The San Francisco Healing Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center received 54 new locked psychiatric beds. The beds are an effort to help people who are placed in conservatorship because they are unable to live independently due to their illnesses, but do not need constant hospital care. They provide an alternative to placing patients in out-of-county facilities, hospitals or jails.

State senators are also working on legislation to expand and strengthen California’s conservatorship laws. Conservatorships are currently limited to elderly individuals vulnerable to abuse as well as people with severe disabilities or cognitive limitations. The bill seeks to give counties more options to address homeless individuals who are trapped in a cycle of going in and out of jails, hospitals and other government services.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed also introduced a measure that decriminalizes mental health conservatorship. It puts the city attorney in charge of overseeing such cases instead of the district attorney.

Conservatorships may be needed in circumstances where a person is unable to make one’s own financial and health care decisions due to physical or mental incapacity. In California, a civil court judge establishes a conservatorship by appointing someone to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. While a conservatorship may be necessary in some cases, it can typically be avoided if the person has previously signed an Advance Health Care Directive or Durable Power of Attorney.

California may allow on-campus medical marijuana use for special needs students

Some children who have special needs depend on marijuana for medical treatment due to its purported therapeutic properties. Now, a California senator has introduced a bill that would allow local school boards to create policies that permit on-campus medical marijuana use for special needs students or those with serious disabilities.

Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who introduced the bill, said in a statement that the goal is to give “students access to the medicine they need so they have a better chance for success in the classroom and in the community.”

Under the measure, the child’s parent or guardian would be able to administer medical marijuana in various forms such as capsules, topical creams, tinctures or oils on school campuses that have the approval of the school district’s governing board. Currently, students from kindergarten through grade 12 must be off campus in order to have medical marijuana administered to them.

The legislation gives charter schools, county boards of education or governing boards of school districts the option to pass more permissive policies. Students seeking to use medical marijuana on campus would need to have a doctor’s recommendation.

As there are many different laws governing medical marijuana use, lawmakers are seeking to address any statutes that could potentially conflict with the measure. It appears the key force behind the legislation is ensuring the safety of special needs students. “We want to make sure that these children are able to take this medicinally recommended product in a safe environment rather than out on the street,” Hill said.

California faces growing concerns and lawsuits over nursing home evictions

California has been at the center of a renewed focus on patient dumping and unlawful nursing home evictions. Local and federal regulators are looking to enhance the enforcement of laws that protect nursing home residents.

A lawsuit was recently filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court against SavaSeniorCare, a national nursing home chain. Six of its California facilities were accused of illegally evicting nursing home residents. They allegedly refused to provide patients with advance written notices of discharge or inform them of their right to appeal the discharge.

The lawsuit claimed SavaSeniorCare favored profit over following longstanding rules designed to protect residents. Last year, the AARP Foundation filed a similar lawsuit against a Sacramento provider.

Nursing homes have a legal duty to provide 30 days’ notice before discharging a patient involuntarily. They must also notify the appropriate parties, give a specific reason for the eviction and offer the resident a chance to contest the decision. In addition, the nursing home is required to help arrange the individual’s transfer to their home or another long-term care facility.

Evictions have to meet a limited set of criteria in order to be justified. For example, a patient may be discharged because of their failure to pay, the facility’s closure or inability to meet the resident’s needs, or because the resident poses a risk to others’ safety. Many nursing homes misinterpret the reasons and engage in patient dumping for monetary gains.

Legislation that aims to deter the practice of patient dumping has been introduced in the California State Senate. The measure would ensure nursing homes discharge patients to their specified place of residence or to another licensed facility.

Unfortunately, far too many residents nationwide are unaware of their rights and are evicted without an appeal. As a result, they end up without permanent housing or the routine medical care they need upon discharge.