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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

THE CASE OF LADY J

I got a call from a woman I'll call "Lady J".  Yes I have her real legal name but there's no point in using it.  But to verify my story I'll be happy to give that name to you in order to verify her case for your records.  She called me up about November of 2013.  I remember because I spend every Thanksgiving with local Sex Workers Anonymous members.


Now to refresh the memory of our readers who may be new here - back in 1984 I was dubbed "The High Tech Madam" by the media during a high profile arrest.  The District Attorney called me a "career criminal" to the judge as well a "menace to society".  Meaning every other person I've seen in my shoes but me has not only wound up serving at least three years in prison - but also they "re-offend".  They don't really go straight in 99.999 percent of the time in other words.  Those are the odds against me.   However, through the program I was given back then through the way Narcotics Anonymous used to be before the "Traditions Wars" and the office take over of the fellowship - I was able to leave behind a life of all crime, sex work and drugs.  Contrary to what a lot of people assume also I'm actually much happier now also than I was back then.  So in other words, me just being off drugs and living off a completely legit non-sex related income right now is about as miraculous as a fish learning how to ride a bicycle - especially when you consider my past history of abuse growing up.  Wanting to bring that program to others before their lives blew up like mine did - that's why i founded SWA in 1987.


So when I got a call from this woman it was because she had just tried to commit suicide supposedly was her story at first anyway.  The paramedics came and took her to the hospital for three days.  Then she was released into the care of this Rawson Neals Mental Health Facility for after-care.  The counselor there was a woman from the Philippines.  She barely spoke any English to be honest.   She had found out this woman was a prostitute and had gone online, found our phone number, and gave it to her to call me.  Lady J told me she hadn't heard of me yet which was a "good thing" as she'd "been through every other program in the country" besides mine evidently and "none of them took".    Now they had told her they were going to put her into a residential drug treatment program - but until they could find her a bed they were putting her up in an apartment over behind the MGM for free.  She was given food stamps and medical insurance and in return all she had to do while waiting for a bed was to be at home twice a day for a nurse to come by and give her a dose of medications.


When I asked her "what medications" she didn't know.  The nurse just handed them to her.  This nurse would come by at 9:00 a.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. so she had to be home at those times to get her dose.  They did not allow her to get the pills ahead of time for outings.  This was the condition for her to get this free rent and a bed in treatment to come.  Plus she was to come into the center once a week and talk to her counselor.


I asked her what she wanted of me.  She said she wanted to "get clean and stop hooking".  Okay no problem I told her.  I asked her if she was being completely honest with me (of course knowing she wasn't) and of course she said "yes".


"Fine.  Then hand me your iphone." I told her.

"What?"

"Well if you're done - then you don't need your iphone.  I'm here and can make any calls you need for anything.  Your phone is for calls to tricks and for drugs.  So give me the phone and I'll give it back to you in 90 days".


Of course she refused.  But now I know what I'm dealing with.


I asked her if she'd been to an NA meeting before.  She said "not on the outside of a program".  I then asked her if she'd ever tried to hold down a non-prostitute job before.  She told me of a program in Las Vegas she'd been in where to stay there they had them going out fund raising.  They had to make a certain quota or they'd be evicted.   She said it made her feel just like she was hooking so she figured "if I'm still hooking why am I here?" and she left.   (I checked and while that home existed at this time it appears to have disbanded since.)


My program was two-fold.  I want to get her looking for work for one.  For another, most NA meetings in Las Vegas are at 8:00 a.m. or even 10:00 a.m. to noon.  The evening meetings start at 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  So the times she's having to be at home for these pills is a barrier for me to help her find work or go to most meetings.  If we go to the 9:00 p.m. meetings then she's not going to feel like getting up in the morning for the morning pills.  Plus I don't even know what she's on.  To be perfectly honest she's not making the most sense either.  I don't know what's the prescription pills vs. what's her trauma or anything.   The only thing I can think of to do is to talk to her counselor.   Maybe they'll tell me what she's on even or why she's being doled out pills like this.  Turns out she has an appointment with her counselor the next morning at 8:00 a.m.  Which also makes no sense to me.  Anyone knows that addicts, especially addicts with depression, and no car so they're on the bus, are not going to have an easy time getting there at 8:00 a.m.  To do so on the bus means leaving the house at 6:00 a.m.  Meaning getting up at 5:00 a.m.  This is just a set-up for failure in my opinion.


She asked me if I would go with her and also drive her to this appointment.  So I do.  This is when I realize her counselor can barely speak English.  Which strikes me as odd because one is supposed to have at least a BA degree to be providing counseling.  Needless to say I'm curious.  I ask this counselor "might I ask your degree?"  She informs me she is a PSR.   This is like what a CNA is to a nurse.  It also means she doesn't even have a BA degree.  I tell her I'm "curious" about how she wound up over here in this job.  She informs me that the head hunting agency was recruiting in the Philippines - which Las Vegas does.  I've had teachers, and dentists, and now it seems counselors tell me that Vegas has been recruiting for people to fill county or state jobs there.


I ask her if I might know what medications Lady J is on.  She shows me the prescription and I take note.  These are not the "typical" anti-depressants given to most "newcomers" I'm hearing about in the NA meetings.  In fact, I've never even heard of them.   I ask her why they are requiring her to take the pills with this nurse.  She tells me "to make sure she's taking them on time".  I explain that I know a nurse is an expense to the budget.  Why are they paying a nurse to dole out medications at an apartment building?  Why not just give her a bottle and let her take them as prescribed?  She repeats that this is also their way of "checking up" on the patient to see what their condition is.  I explain that the hours are giving me a hard time finding her work or attending NA meetings and that's with a car - while the other patients are on a bus.


I ask if her hours can be modified.  She explains that they have "one nurse" and therefore they can't adjust the schedule for just one patient.  Okay - how about adjusting them period?  I explain about how these people need to be in meetings and working jobs and this schedule is essentially tying them to the house.  If they refuse - they're booted out.  I ask if we can change the nurses' schedule for everyone then.   She tells me there is "no budget".   She did however agree to allow her to have a bottle and take them herself if I agreed to monitor them that she takes them on the exact time she's supposed to.  I agreed to take responsibility and they went about giving her a bottle of the pills.


(As a side note - I've seen many a case of psychiatric medication experiments.  They usually like to experiment on inmates because they have the same diet every day as the others and they take their meds at the same time every day.  There was no reason for that nurse to give those medications as a certain time unless this was an experiment.  Why spend the money otherwise?  The medication was not "typical" for someone like her and I'd honestly never heard of the pills she was on.


Do they do that?  Check this out.  https://psychiatricnews.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/psychiatrist-robert-l-horne-exposed-almost/  I want to point out here proof that the Nevada Division of Child & Family Services is involved with psychiatric research.    http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/hn/2000/fs0035.pdf     I also want to point out that the state can order psychiatric care for a child "in their best interests" for a child in the state's care.  http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Division/Research/Publications/PandPReport/31-JJ.pdf  I remember this from my own daughter's situation.  When I insisted on more testing before putting her on dangerous unproven medications when she was 12 years old - the state told me they would take her away from me if i did not and force her to take these medications.   The fact that none of their brochures said they've "been approved for use in children" seemed to not matter to them.  Here is more information on how students and research are paired on Nevada's low income children http://medicine.nevada.edu/reno/spa/clinics/ucan/parternerships.  By the way, I've asked if they can put someone on experimental medications without telling them it's an experiment.  They inform me back "they have the right to refuse them".  Okay so what they mean is as long as you don't say "no" to them - they will do what they want to you.)


I then asked her "do you have any other prostitutes you're working with here?" and thank her for referring Lady J to me.  She tells me all of her female clients are prostitutes.  I ask if she'd like any help with them - could we refer the rest of them to SWA?  She says she'll "talk to her supervisor and let me know".  I ask if I can place a poster for SWA up in the lobby.  She says that's fine.  So I post a flyer for us in the lobby of the mental health center.


I then set about to get her set-up.  I found a job that didn't even ask for an ID for her selling vitamins over the phone.  Nice office.  Casual environment.  They pay $40 a day cash if you strike out and don't sell a thing.  The average workers are making $300 a day.  I don't ask the manager - I ask the other telemarketers who tell me this.  On a good day she might make $1000.   The office is right off a bus line.  It seems like a nice place.  Her hours at 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.   Her rent is free - but if she goes into a weekly her rent is $160 a week.  So she can live off this job even if she doesn't sell a thing.  It's a start.   I go with her on the interview to show her how to fill out the paperwork and how to interview.  She gets the job and do I.  I like to work the first day with new SWA members so I assure her I'll be there right with her that first day.


She has no clothes.  When the paramedics came to take her out of the motel she was in - they shut up the room because she didn't pay any rent.  Her cat, Sushi, got out and she's worried about her cat.  I ask if she has any photos and she says "no" which I thought was strange.   I get a description of the cat and tell her I'll look online for her.    But I take her to Savers and pick her up a week's worth of clothes suitable for an office job for $20.   Then I hand her a bus pass for the week so she can get to meetings and the job without me, along with a SWA Recovery Guide, and an NA Big Book.  I ask if she has a Christmas tree or wants one.  She does.  So we go out to the dollar store and she picks out a purple tree we take home with her clothes.


There's more to the story - but I'm limiting this to what happened at the center.  We celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together.   I see her take a 60 day chip.   We found her cat.  I paid the $150 redemption fee so she could have her cat back.  Everything was moving forward nicely.


Then suddenly I get a call.  She's being told she's "trespassing" in the apartment because she has no lease and she's being thrown out in the street at 8:00 a.m. the next morning.  I ask if they're giving her any cash, or a housing voucher, or something.  She tells me "nothing" just that she's told she has to leave.  When she asks why - they say the "center has closed".    This was the article I found about it. http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas-psychiatric-clinic-closes-under-federal-pressure


I had enough cash to put her up for one week in a weekly next door.  The landlord told me there was a grant she could get for the next month at the Cambridge Community Center.   So I said we'd take her there to apply for that grant until we could get her more stabilized.   I asked what was happening to the other people in the program and she didn't know.  They never let her speak to any of the other clients she told me.


I made some phone calls and was told that this mental health center was submitting bills for treatment and medications that were "not approved" by the state because the medications were "experimental" and were being "prescribed off label" meaning for things other than prescribed for.  As I thought because I didn't recognize the medication names either.   So what happened was they were essentially experimenting on these people - and when Medicaid refused to pay - they just shut down the experiment.


I did some further digging and learned that most of the clients for that mental health center had been coming from the jails and prisons in Nevada.   I invite you to look at some dates.  This clinic was shut down and these patients like Lady J were kicked out into the street without any after-care.  If I had not been there - this woman would have had no choice but to prostitute for a place to sleep that night literally.  http://lasvegassun.com/news/2013/sep/09/decay-nevadas-mental-health-system-goes-beyond-raw/


Because what I'm reading here was that this center "lost it's licensing" as of an article dated September 2013.  However, this woman came to me in November of 2013.  She was booted out of the program on the streets in January of 2014.    It says she was supposed to get "wraparound" medical care which she did not.


Her medical care was through them.  She hadn't got her Medicaid card in the mail yet.  She couldn't because when they booted her out she couldn't get her mail that had the card in the mail.   They had put her on these medications twice a day that she's now out of.  We have no idea where to get more.  So suddenly this woman is now booted into the street, and thus she's also ripped off these medications without warning.   If I had not been there - no one would have been there.  Now I've done some homework and in every case of some maniac going off shooting people at schools or malls or theaters or McDonald's - I've read that they had been on psychiatric medications that they had "suddenly stopped".  It's dangerous.   Men tend to act "outward" and shoot people whereas women tend to harm themselves by acting "inward".


We've heard about the people being put on a bus with Ensure - and this is the center those people were coming out of.  http://www.sfcityattorney.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=1366


Now if I'm reading this right - the jails were forcing inmates to stay in jail until they could get treatment or a bed at this same hospital.  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/02/24/3321721/mental-health-patients-jail-nevada/  in a February 2014 article.   Meaning that once they shut down the center in January - they were then telling the press that inmates were being held in jail illegally because there were no beds because the center had closed.


This article confirms that the jail's mentally ill were being sent to this hospital.  http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/health/broken-mental-health-system-overwhelms-nevada  Meaning that this woman who was supposedly "suicidal" in Las Vegas was taken into a mental hospital by the ambulance where inmates who think snakes are living in their stomach are also being treated - a hospital that wasn't licensed if I'm reading this properly.


They had told her they were "waiting on her a bed" yet I went over to the treatment center and asked if there was a bed available for a female.  They said "yes".  So why was she being kept in this apartment - and then just dumped?


Now again, if I had not of been there - what would her options have been being booted out like that with no money, no job - a situation they created?  From the way I see it, and the area they housed her in (crack ville) she would most likely have gone to the nearest corner to sell her wares or called up an old regular to pay for a hotel somewhere or stay with him.   As it was, I was able to get her into another apartment.  However, I had been handed someone who was in early drug recovery who was suddenly yanked off her psychiatric medications and given the sudden jolt of the system abandoning her.  Anyone would have been stressed.


I'm not surprised she disappeared a few days later on a meth run.  Do I blame myself or our program?  No I don't.  This woman had the whole house of cards stacked against her by a system that tells her they want her to be clean from drugs, and to not prostitute, but then does something like that to her.  That's when prostitution becomes a survival tool.  This woman isn't going to want to think she has to depend upon SWA for help - she's going to want to depend upon herself.  She hadn't been given that chance yet to get on her own two feet before they chemically unbalanced her brain so she couldn't think properly.


Who do we sue or hold accountable?  I saw there was a lawsuit filed about the "patient dumping"?  Now has anything changed?  Look - I live a 12 step life.  It takes me I need to look at the good and the bad, take stock, and see things for what they are.  The courage to "change the things I can, and the serenity to accept what I can't".


So okay - you tell me - can we change anything here?  


PS - if anyone wonders why the county mental health people don't like to refer prostitutes to us for help THIS is one of those reasons.    Predators like their victims to just go away in silence.  THIS is where people are going for mental health help?

It appears the facility was re-opened in April.  I see nothing about any changes to the system that created this problem in the the first place.  http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/rawson-neal-psychiatric-hospital-gets-green-light-feds  Yes they gave them more money and licensing - but what about what caused this problem in the first place?)

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