View Full Version : LA County Government Help


Shirker
04-10-09, 02:39 AM
I thought I would write up my quest to try and see a psychiatrist with the county. Not having insurance and being dead broke, it has been since last summer since I was on medication. The county mental health system isn't easy to navigate and they don't give out a lot of information on the web. The system seems to comprise a variety of county run facilities and private contractors.

Starting off, I have already been diagnosed with ADD and was on a cocktail of medications including Strattera, Abilify, Provigil and Lexapro. As I mentioned before, variety of circumstances led me to seek county help rather than my doctor. My search began some months ago when I looked through some of the county websites. They provide almost no information about what services exist and how to go about obtaining them. The seemingly sole bit of information is the number to a county mental help line. After months of procrastination (obviously), I called and said that I needed mental health services or something along those lines. The person gave a number of a clinic that serves my area. This was the Arcadia clinic which I called. Arcadia said that they don't serve my area and they gave me a new number for Tricity Mental Health in Pomona. Naturally it was the wrong number. I found Tricity's number on their web page and called.

Talking to the person who answered the phone, I again said that I needed mental health services and needed to see a psychiatrist. They said I needed to come in and do a quick evaluation. No appointments are taken for this as it is walk in only. The person also said that it would take a few months to possibly see a psychiatrist as their no insurance slots were filled. They take state insurance like medical but they only see a limited number of people who have no state or private insurance means to pay. Tricity is a private contractor for this area.

Two weeks later I manage to make it to their offices (already I'm getting better). Naturally, I miss their walk hours but they will do the eval anyways. The person takes me into the room and asks a series of questions related to my mental condition. This person was not very sharp as she couldn't understand the concept that ADD had been affecting me all my life. The questions were more along the lines of name, address and what was my problem type of thing. This took less than ten minutes and then she took the information to a supervisor?. She came back and said I should go to LA County-USC hospital for medication and that there are no slots available for the uninsured. She was as unhelpful as could possibly be and couldn't answer any questions.

At this point, I wasn't sure what to do. My friend who drove me to the clinic said let's go to County-USC. He could take me this past Wednesday and we agree to leave at 9:30 in the morning. At this point, I'm starting to wonder what's the point as any person reading this knows it's not necessarily easy to diagnose and the hospital itself looks pretty damn intimidating from the freeway. Anyways, I get to my friends place Wednesday morning and say this might be a boondoggle. He looks at me and says let's go as he knows I'm dysfunctional without meds. I decide to call before we leave to try and get more info. I call the county helpline again and explain what I had been told. She says that I could go to County-USC or Arcadia. Arcadia though has limited days I could be seen, but I could get medication right away at County-USC. She was trying to be very helpful, but didn't seem to know whether County-USC walk in clinic was still Open which it was as she eventually found out. The next question was where was it located in the hospital complex which she didn't know and I got disconnected when she put me on hold to find out. I called back and the person who answered gave me an address.

We leave and make it to the hospital only to end driving around for 15 minutes looking for the address. We park and walk in only to find out that it was the old location of the clinic and it had been moved into the new hospital. The walk in clinic is located right next to the front entrance on the first floor in its own little area. At this point it's 12:00, I talked to lady behind glass and say that Tricity had told me to come down to County-USC. Initially, she says that I have to go to Arcadia but after a long conversation we realize the circumstances. The walk in clinic at County-USC is a psychiatric emergency clinic and an office for people to make appointments for the region it covers. I was their for meds which meant going through the emergency route as they called it. It's the same room just different windows at the desk. I was worried when she said emergency she meant the main emergency room in the hospital with gunshots and flu victims alike which seemed stupid for me to go through. She also says that I can get a referral to go to Arcadia to see a psychiatrist.

At this point, I fill out the emergency form and wait. About an hour in they take my blood pressure and was asked a few medical questions by the nurse. This happened at about 1:00 and I asked how long it would be and was told 3 or 4 more hours. I told my friend to leave as I could take the bus back. He reluctantly agreed and so I waited. There weren't many people in the clinic when I was there, say a max of 15 at the busiest with not all being there to see the doc and only 3 or 4 after I got in.

Finally at about 4:30, I get called in to see the Doc. I said I was ADD and needed meds. Telling him what I was taking, he didn't understand why I was prescribed the cocktail of Abilify, Strattera, Provigal and Lexapro. He asked me a couple of quick questions and said I didn't need anything but Strattera and they don't prescribe stimulants. In addition, the hospital didn't carry it and only had Abilify and Lexapro. I manage to get him to give me Lexapro and a script for Strattera. The whole thing lasted 5 minutes tops. I say this because if you aren't diagnosed you aren't going to be this route. At this point I'm pretty tired but still have to wait for a case worker to get a referral to Arcadia. Finally I get out and drop the script for Lexapro at the hospital pharmacy. It would take 3 or 4 hours for it to be filled which I decide not to wait for as you have 7 days to pick it up. I find the bus stop to get back to the Inland Empire finally arriving home a few minutes before 8:00 including stopping for dinner. Whew.

What to take from this saga? Don't expect the answers you get are correct as few know what they are doing but neither do you so ask a lot of questions. It takes a lot of waiting. You aren't going to get diagnosed through the emergency clinic. He more or less took me at my word about my diagnosis.