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MENTALLY ILL TO GET MORE BED SPACE.

Byline: Troy Anderson Staff Writer

After what a psychiatric patient's family claims was her wrongful death at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved spending $11 million to expand mental health services.

The funds will be spent to treat patients at the county's four psychiatric emergency rooms, in a new residential program and in the 12-bed crisis residential program at Hillview Mental Health Center in Lake View Terrace. Officials are also reviewing patient-rights issues at Sylmar Health and Rehabilitation Center with the hope of securing more beds there.

``We need more beds, and this will help us meet that need,'' Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said. ``This is a severe problem.''

The board's vote comes after the Jan. 1 death of Cynthia F. Bartolf at Olive View, where she had been admitted Dec. 7.

Bartolf's family has filed a $250,000 claim against the county, saying she was found dead in bed with toxic blood levels of methadone, metoprolol, sertraline and other controlled substances prescribed by doctors.

Department of Health Services spokesman John Wallace said he could not comment on the case, citing the pending litigation.

The death followed another one late last year in which a patient committed suicide while awaiting treatment at the overcrowded Harbor-UCLA psychiatric emergency room.

In the past two years, officials in mental health and health agencies have worked to relieve overcrowding in the county's four psychiatric emergency rooms.

``Despite these efforts, the overcrowding has persisted,'' Department of Mental Health Director Marvin Southard wrote in a July 7 report to the supervisors.

The number of patients going to psychiatric emergency rooms has grown by 16 percent in the past year and now totals about 2,000 people a month.

Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985

troy.anderson(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 20, 2005
Words:296
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