They wanted to take the best possible care of their son. Sovereign Health, they were told, will get it: he will be closely watched by a licensed therapist. And a psychiatrist. He also received group therapy.
But shortly after a debilitating psychotic breakdown in early 2018, Brandon Nelson ended up in an unlicensed Sovereign Asylum Home. Left on his own, he used his sweatpants and ceiling fire spray to hang himself. He was 26 years old.
“No family should go through what we are going through – the death of a child when we thought he was getting help,” said his mother, Rose Nelson.
Brandon’s Law is designed to prevent this from happening again. It prohibits operators of rehab centers from misrepresenting or knowingly making false statements about the services they offer or where they are located.
It is also just one of several bills signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this month aimed at reforming California’s troubled commercial mental health and drug treatment industry.
“I’m so happy,” said Senator Pat Bates, author of the R-Laguna Niguel Act. “This is the path we have been following for a long time. We want people to receive the promised services. “
In addition to the law to change the advertising of rehab centers, Newsom also signed a law that will require rehabilitation programs to have liability insurance. This requirement can go a long way towards eradicating fly-by-night scams, the author said. , Assembly Member Cottie Petri-Norris, D-Laguna Beach.
In addition to raising industry standards, the new insurance rule will protect patients when something goes wrong. He was supported by the Commissioner for Insurance Ricardo Lara.
“This is a big step forward,” said Petri-Norris. “This will lead to significant changes.”
Newsom also signed several other bills aimed at saving lives on the Rehabilitation Riviera.
One, created by Assembly Member Lori Davis, R-Laguna Niguel, will require government licensed hospitals to store two unexpired doses of naloxone and a trained staff member at the ready. The drug is often effective against opioid overdose and is marketed by many emergency responders across the country.
Another, created by Bates, requires businesses licensed or certified by the government to clearly state their license and certificate numbers and expiration dates on their websites and other promotional materials. The aim is to provide consumers who are often disabled or vulnerable when purchasing rehabilitation services more information.
Another new law aims to dispel puffs of smoke from the backyards of nursing homes and sober homes by requiring operators to assess their patients for tobacco use and refer them to treatment for smoking and other substance abuse.
Since the Southern California News Group began chronicling alarming reports of death, sexual assault, drug abuse, and patient payments in California’s loosely regulated addiction treatment industry in 2017, many laws have been enacted to curb abuse. There were also hearings and special groups, arrests and imprisonment.
There were also more deaths as the basic model of California’s commercial treatment system remained unchanged. Six-bed nursing homes, often located along residential routes and staffed by people with little medical education, can be stranded by the crises they face.
On August 26, a man walked out of a Newport Beach detox home with signs of paranoid delirium. After several minutes of pre-dawn screams, he burst into a neighboring house. This neighbor shot 23-year-old Henry Richard Lehr. On Monday, October 11, District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced that the murder was acquitted and that the shooter would not be charged.
While neighbors, activists, and lawmakers want to do more to reform the drug treatment industry, many believe Newsom’s bills signed this month are a good step forward.
After Brandon Nelson’s death, his family heard from other people seeking help with mental health and addiction issues who said they were being exploited by fraudulent treatment centers trying to capitalize on their suffering, his father, Allen Nelson, said.
The younger Nelson would have enthusiastically supported the law that bears his name, which Allen Nelson called an important tool in his arsenal of tools to help root out deception.
“It will help save lives,” Nelson said.