PENDLETON - Examples of problems associated with Umatilla County's Mental Health program were cited in a recent report issued by the state Office of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Regarding inadequate crisis services, reviewers confirmed an incident in which a patient refused to exit a burning car and had to be pulled to safety by others after a risk assessment by the UCMH program in which the person was told to go home and eat well, that his wife had fixed a good dinner and that eating well would help him feel better.

"This patient was exhibiting dangerous behavior and impaired judgment and should have been admitted to the hospital," the report stated.

Concerning inadequate services for people with serious and persistent mental illnesses, the report said just before the site review a person was released from the hospital to the care of the UCMH program. The person was subsequently found speeding down Interstate 84 at 90 mph into the oncoming lanes of traffic.

"Had law enforcement personnel not intervened by closing the highway and placing tire spikes on the roadway, the incident likely would have resulted in the serious injury or death of this person and, possibly, other innocent citizens," the state's report said.

Another example occurred approximately eight weeks before the site review involving a woman with schizophrenia who was isolated in her apartment for days and was attempting to revive a dead cat. UCMH was contacted for assistance and the caller was told that the only thing that could be done was to send the police.

"Other interventions, such as sending a mental health professional to conduct a home visit would have been a more appropriate intervention for this person," the report stated.

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