The following is a summary of the Mendocino County Grand Jury’s regarding the county’s Public Administrator, the Public Conservator, and a Public Guardian:
In every community there are individuals who are a danger to themselves or others or are unable to care for their basic needs as a result of their serious mental illness. California law provides a statutory process prior to initiating involuntary treatment within the Lanterman-Petris Short (LPS) Act, Welfare and Institutions Code sections 5150, et seq., commonly referred to as “5150.”
When a psychiatric health facility where an individual from Mendocino County has been placed through a 5150 or subsequent hold, determines that an individual is gravely disabled due to their serious mental illness and requires conservatorship, the Behavioral Health Department (BHD) receives those referrals, cares for those individuals, and the Public Conservator (Director of the BHD) initiates petitions within the Superior Court for those who have been declared gravely disabled.
Placement of these individuals is difficult since there is a lack of beds available in appropriate facilities close to home. Many placements are made in Southern California far from natural support networks. The construction of a Psychiatric Housing Facility (PHF) in Mendocino County will help with initial hospitalization of psychiatric patients.
When an individual is “gravely disabled” due to dementia or serious brain injury (rather than mental illness), and there are not any family members or friends who can be appointed conservator to care for them, the Public Guardian receives referrals for conservatorship under the Probate Code. The Public Guardian, who is the Director of the Social Services Department (SSD) will initiate probate conservatorship proceedings in the Superior Court for these individuals.
Approximately eight individuals within the County die each month without next of kin or with next of kin who decline to take control of their remains or their estate. If no next of kin step forward, the remains of these individuals and their property, if any, is referred to the staff of social services in a program called the Public Administrator.
The administration of these programs often requires the County to initiate actions within the Superior Court and are partially dependent on County General Funds. Per capita spending for these programs exceeds those of neighboring rural counties.
The entire report is posted at: