|Director resigns over teen suspect's treatment|
|Sixteen-year-old accused of killing mom is held in psych unit|
|By Sandy Kleffman, MEDIANEWS STAFF|
Inside Bay Area
|Posted:Sat Nov 18 03:34:35 MST 2006|
|A Danville teen accused of killing his mother became the focal point of a dispute last weekend that led to the resignation of the psychiatric unit medical director at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center.
The boy's attorney, Daniel Horowitz, confirmed Friday his client was at the center of a disagreement over treatment.
Andrew Mantas, 16, was taken to the county-owned hospital in Martinez shortly after his arrest Nov. 6.
He is accused of beating his mother to death with an aluminum baseball bat at their home. Mantas had complained of hearing voices and went with his mother to seek help from a family priest two days before her death, according to the priest.
The hospital kept him in psychiatric emergency services for eight days following his arrest. The locked facility is for people undergoing a mental health crisis.
Employees in the unit seek to stabilize people, then admit them to an inpatient facility or release them.
The hospital has its own inpatient psychiatric beds, but they are licensed for adults only. Youths who need further treatment are placed elsewhere.
On Nov. 12, Dr. Scott Weigold, the psychiatric unit medical director, grew frustrated that Mantas had been in emergency services so long.
He e-mailed Dr. Jeff Smith, the hospital's executive director, saying he planned to admit Mantas to the hospital's adult inpatient unit.
"I explained in very ham-fisted and emotional manner, that I was desperate to prevent a young man needing psychiatric hospitalization from being required to live in (psychiatric emergency services) for another week or more," Weigold wrote in a letter distributed to his colleagues this week.
"I demanded that potential licensing and regulatory issues ... are not sufficient to prevent us from providing this young man the only form of inpatient treatment available."
Reached at his home Friday, Weigold declined to comment.
Smith said he cannot discuss specifics of the case because of federal patient privacy laws. But he talked in general about treatment options for youths. Contra Costa mental health advocates have long complained such options are inadequate.
Contra Costa acute-care facilities for adolescents accept only people who meet strict criteria for being held against their will, including being gravely disabled by mental illness or posing an acute danger to themselves or others, Smith said.
Contra Costa Regional Medical Center is not licensed to provide inpatient treatment to youths and does not have staff members credentialed to do so, he said.
Smith e-mailed back to Weigold, accusing him of insubordination and stating that he considered the e-mail to be Weigold's resignation.
Weigold has called in sick since Monday. "I accept Dr. Smith's claim that I resigned from my duties," he wrote in his letter to colleagues. He has not submitted a formal resignation.
On Nov. 14, county officials released Mantas from the hospital and sent him to Juvenile Hall in Martinez
"That was shocking to us," Horowitz said. "We didn't understand. ... I have a client who belongs in a psychiatric hospital."
Horowitz said he is particularly upset that Mantas was released before the hospital received the results of a CT scan to determine if he has brain damage.
Smith noted that Juvenile Hall has physicians and psychiatrists available who specialize in treating adolescents.
Horowitz argued that his client needs more in-depth treatment. He plans to ask a judge Nov. 22 to order a psychiatric evaluation to determine if his client should receive such help.
Horowitz visited Mantas shortly after he arrived at Juvenile Hall Tuesday night.
"He was highly medicated and spaced out," Horowitz said. "He was totally non-functional.
"They were treating him nicely. They were very kind to him. But I couldn't talk to him about his case. He wasn't getting it."
Horowitz denied that his goal in seeking treatment for his client is to help show that he was mentally ill at the time of the beating.
"Everybody already knows he's got problems," he said. He noted that Mantas cannot understand and answer questions well enough to assist with his own defense.
"I need to paint a picture of a kid who didn't want to end up like this," he said.