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Monterey County Public Guardian seeks to chemically restrain elder abuse victim

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On January 29, 2014, the Monterey County, California Public Guardian sought permission from the Court to forcibly administer psychotropic medications to conservatee and elder abuse victim Margarita Zelada. The court continued the hearing to Wednesday, March 19, 2014, when they will again consider whether the Public Guardian will forcibly administer chemical restraint to a frail elderly woman who pleads for her liberty.

In March 2013, the Public Guardian engaged Pacific Grove Police Department to forcibly remove Margarita from her daughter’s home where she was visiting. Witnesses tell of ten officers with guns drawn and leveled Margarita’s daughter.

A private duty nurse recalls a female officer “barrel chested” Margarita’s daughter after the daughter asked to see a warrant authorizing entry into her home. No warrant was presented.

The same nurse said Margarita’s screams were the most horrible thing she ever heard. A year later, Margarita’s nightmare continues.

Margarita is imprisoned and isolated at Senior Paradise in Del Rey Oaks, over two hours from her home in San Francisco. The front door of the facility has three locks preventing entry or escape. Director Margaret Camera told elder rights advocates the Public Guardian instructed her to call police if anyone asked to visit Margarita.

Bowing to pressure from elder rights advocates, the Public Guardian allowed Margarita three short visits with her daughter in fall of 2013. Margarita spoke of being in prison and begged for her liberty.

The Public Guardian terminated the visits. Margarita last visited with her daughter on November 15, 2013.

The Public Guardian also obtained a court order denying Margarita her right to contact with advocates. Monterey County was the first to seek an order specifically crafted to circumvent the personal rights stated in AB937, signed into law in August 2013.

Seeking validation to further violate Margarita’s civil rights, the Public Guardian will return to court on March 19 with a motion to forcibly administer psychotropic medications. Both the FDA and California’s Department of Aging caution against administration of psychotropic medications to elderly patients.

Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 72018 defines a CHEMICAL RESTRAINT as: “a drug used to control behavior and used in a manner not required to treat the patient’s medical symptoms.” All residents have a right to be free from the use of chemical restraints. (42 CFR §483.13(a); 22 CCR §72527(a)(23); 22 CCR §72319), yet, the use of antipsychotic drugs on those with dementia is common practice and often used as an alternative to the needed care of these individuals.

California’s Notice of Conservatee’s Rights states the conservatee has the right to:

Make his or her own medical decisions

The Public Guardian’s motion is supported by a capacity determination from a Dr. Blatt. Dr. Blatt’s recommendation directly opposes the guidance above from California’s Department of Aging.

A statement of opinion that the conservatee lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the administration of the psychotropic mediation, and that the conservatee needs or would benefit from the proposed appropriate mediation.

If the court grants the order requested by the Public Guardian, they will have authority to forcibly administer psychotropic drugs as chemical restraint. Yet another of Margarita’s civil rights will be violated.

The Public Guardian reports to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. Readers may contact the Board at the following email addresses.

Monterey County Board of Supervisors

District 1: Fernando Armenta, district1@co.monterey.ca.us

District 2: Louis R. Calcagno, district2@co.monterey.ca.us

District 3: Simón Salinas, district3@co.monterey.ca.us

District 4: Jane Parker, district4@co.monterey.ca.us

District 5: Dave Potter, district5@co.monterey.ca.us

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