Governor’s Newtown Panel Stymied by Lanza’s Missing Mental Health Records

January 6th, 2014 | Blog

Sandy Hook Advisory Committee Stymied by Lanza’s Missing
Mental Health Records

Say it isn’t so.  The Chairman of the Sandy Hook Advisory Committee, Scott Jackson, doesn’t have the medical/mental health records of Adam Lanza, which are necessary for his committee to make appropriate recommendations for changes to the State’s mental health system.

This is really old news to Ablechild.  Having spent nearly a year utilizing every legislative and legal avenue available to make public the toxicology, medical and mental health records of Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, Ablechild was stymied by State officials at every step.

Yes, Ablechild is empathetic to the difficulties Jackson is having obtaining this important information, which is key to making – or not making – changes to the State’s mental health system.

Interestingly, Jackson has hired a law firm to comb through the thousands of pages released by the State Police. What law firm and at what cost to Connecticut taxpayers?  It only took Ablechild three days to review the redundant and heavily redacted documents within the State Police Report.  Nevertheless, Jackson apparently has read enough of the report to start asking questions.

According to Jackson, “one of the things that we really talked about quite a bit was that we need to understand the story of Adam Lanza and Nancy Lanza and we really don’t have it.” In particular, Jackson said “in order to understand how we got to where he was from a treatment standpoint, they’re going to need a little bit more.”

“A little bit more?”  With all due respect, the Committee needs more than a “little bit” of information.  Other than providing a few psychiatric diagnoses, and the mention of one psychiatric drug prescribed to Lanza, there are no specifics provided about the shooter’s mental health treatment.

In fact, it’s fair to say that more is known about the mental health records that were destroyed by Lanza’s primary psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Fox, than what mental health treatment Lanza received.  Worse still, the last five years of Lanza’s mental health services is nonexistent.

According to the data provided by both the State Attorney’s office and the State Police Report- literally thousands of pages – there is zero mention of any mental health services provided to Lanza after 2007. Why?

And, with what little information is provided, why are physician treatment “summaries” provided in the recently released State Police Report?  Wouldn’t the actual comments of those psychiatrists treating Lanza be of more help to the Committee than a detective’s summation?

Dr. Harold Schwartz, psychiatrist and member of the Committee, understands the importance of hearing directly from the “horse’s mouth.”  “It’s better,” said Schwartz, “than nothing to have these summaries, but these summaries are not by clinical people.”

Schwartz opines that it may be necessary to contact the shooter’s father, Peter Lanza, to obtain the necessary records.  Why?  Wouldn’t the investigative bodies already have requested and obtained these records?  If not, it seems odd that both investigations would conclude they were unable to find a motive for the attack without first having considered Lanza’s complete mental health treatment record.

Additionally, in May of 2013, Peter Lanza signed a PeterLanzaConsent PeterLanzaConsent form allowing the State Medical Examiner to make public his son’s toxicology report.  Why, then, has the full toxicology report been withheld?

Furthermore, it may serve the Advisory Committee members well to speak with Assistant Attorney General, Patrick B. Kwanashie, who explained during the Ablechild Freedom of Information hearing that the reason for withholding Lanza’s toxicology report was because it “would cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications.”

Sounds like Kwanashie has the inside track on Lanza’s mental health records.  But if that avenue fails to produce results, given that it was his idea to set up the Advisory Committee, perhaps Governor Malloy could pull some strings with his own agencies.

The bottom line is that without reviewing Lanza’s complete mental health record, there is no way the Advisory Committee can, or should, make any decisions about instituting changes to the State’s mental health services.

 

Presidential Executive Orders in Mental Health: A History of Failures

December 26th, 2013 | Breaking News

Numerous Presidential Executive orders and millions in appropriations for Mental Health in Connecticut have produced nothing but failure and may actually be harmful. Hundreds-of-millions more tax dollars have been promised with no hope of real change.   Despite the enormous amount of money being funneled into mental health, the big return seems to be little more than semantics – merely changing words rather than policy.

The State of Connecticut was one of 13 States to receive a federal “mental health transformation” grant under President Bush. The grant was issued as an executive order to “transform” the broken mental health system and was funded through 2010.  And, what was the return on the investment?  Connecticut suffers the largest mass murder/suicide in United States history within years of this “new improved mental health delivery system.”

Patricia Rehmer, the Commissioner of Mental Health in Connecticut, touts on her resume the fact she had oversight of the $13.7 million granted to Connecticut to then revamp the mental health delivery system.  Ablechild participated in all the committee hearings on that grant and called for disclosure to the consumer on the link between the increased risk of suicide, violence and psychiatric drugs.  Ablechild encouraged the State to educate the public on the MEDWATCH program, and to provide alternatives to psychiatric drugs and forced mental health services.  Ablechild also wrote to then Governor Rell requesting an accounting of how the funds were distributed and whether the public would be advised of the results. The Governor denied Ablechild’s request.

Despite tens-of-millions poured into the State’s mental health system with little or no accountability as to how those funds were spent, in the wake of Sandy Hook, President Obama has promised another $100 million thru an executive order to “make it easier to access mental health services.”  That’s great. But what happened to the $13.7 million from President Bush’s grant?

Are you doing the math?  Are you following the insane process?

On December 20, 2012, within weeks of the Sandy Hook shooting, Senator Scott Frantz stated on WCBS to Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau that mental health providers will get a “slight boost” in the wake of the shootings and will have no funding cuts despite the fact that, “it has not been determined if there was direct connection between that and the massacre.”

Recall that Lanza’s mental health, educational records, and full toxicology report are being withheld from the public by the state of Connecticut.

The push, apparently, is to use this $100 million dollars to improve access to mental health services. However, according to the Hartford Courant’s article of June 20, 2013, Adam Lanza’s Medical Records Reveal Growing Anxiety” Lanza did have access to mental health services for many years. Lanza had been “screened” and released as not being a harm to himself or others.

Ablechild is taking the lead in calling for Lanza’s records to be made public, which will be crucial during the upcoming Connecticut legislative session.  The goal is to protect public safety and stop the mismanagement of taxpayer funds.  Is the increased mental health helping or hurting the public? Not everyone is convinced that more money spent on mental health access will have a positive effect – at least, to date, the State cannot prove that the tens-of-millions spent so far has shown any improvement.

For example, Dr. Hank Schwarts, psychiatrist-in-chief of the Institute of Living in Hartford said in regard to mental health issues, “to write a report now, with what we have, would almost be embarrassing.”http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-state-police-drag-feet-on-newtown-report-20131224,0,6056179.story

 

Sound Deal on Teacher Evaluations in the State of New York?

February 19th, 2012 | Blog

In Response to Letter “A Sound Deal on Teacher Evaluations” The New York Times Editorial/Letters Friday, February 17, 2012

A shocking $700 million from the federal “race to the top education program” was given two years ago in exchange for a push for a teacher evaluation program in the State of New York. We are now told a deal has been struck between New York State and the teacher’s union, but more details need to be worked out to break the two year blockage. OMG!

Let’s keep it simple. If you ran a hotel or restaurant and were looking to improve your services and attract new clients, you would ask for feedback to evaluate your current services through an evaluation card or survey. The customer or client would be able to evaluate their experience and rate the service. It is done all the time without spending $700 million dollars.

The New York Governor indicates that he believes holding over the teachers union heads a 4% percent increase in the State education financing penalty combined with the threat of losing federal money will be enough to get the two sides to end the two year blockage? Wait a minute, didn’t the $700 million bribe do that? Parents should be alarmed at the notion of a $700 million dollars tax bill for yet another failed education program “race to the top” that has achieved nothing at the end of two years.

The New York Governor is typically endorsed by the teacher’s union. The union is holding off on that endorsement http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100813/FREE/100819910.
Can anyone spell M.O.N.O.P.O.L.Y? Who cares if the union endorses the Governor or not? Since when should we allow tax paid vendors, i.e. teacher’s union, to call all the shots and even pay off our politicians anyway with endorsements? If the unions serve the people with services, they shouldn’t be in the business of endorsing our lawmakers and gatekeepers that make decisions on their contracts. They should focus their attention on improving the quality of their services.

Things will only change when parents and children have a “mutiny on the bounty” and create a source website that gives other parents and children the heads up on bad quality teachers and bad programs. They are public teachers right? Why not make their reviews public? Send the $700 million dollar in federal money back. This will help us stop having to play class warfare to pay these endless Monopoly driven tax bills.

We should all be allowed to pass go and collect our $200. We are all sick and tired of landing on the luxury tax space. It is time to check the rules on the inside of the box. Let’s go rogue and create our own teacher evaluation program. I am sure it won’t cost $700 million dollars.

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