Tricia Schafer | Director of Customer Relations n TriciaS@keyed.com n 480-359-3307 n www.nexstepaz.com
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the paperwork lengthy and confusing. For
example, an MHG requires completion of a
“Report by Physician Form.” This document describes the nature of the potential
ward’s medical/psychiatric condition, how
the condition affects the person’s
ability to care for himself or herself, and how the condition affects
the person’s ability to make informed decisions about his or her
care. It is not uncommon for family
physicians or treating psychiatrists
to decline to complete this form.
Reasons include that the provider:
may not feel qualified to complete
the report; may fear jeopardizing
the therapeutic relationship with
the patient; and/or may wish to
avoid an uncompensated appearance in court or testimony. If the
ward’s primary physician declines
to complete the form, the potential
guardian may not know how to obtain an
independent evaluator or have the funds to
pay for an independent evaluator’s time.
When a ward objects to the activation of
his or her MHPOA, it can be difficult to
find a treatment provider who is willing
to declare that ward incompetent so that
the MHPOA can be invoked. The potential
guardian may be unable to afford legal
counsel to assist in this matter. These two
situations leave a vulnerable person with a
mental illness who is in need of psychiatric
treatment without a guardian or a method
to obtain necessary intervention except
through the involuntary treatment system
There is a clear need for a more streamlined method to obtain MHG powers. Temporary emergency guardianship has
the potential to be more readily
conferred, especially if the request
is generated by a medical professional. If the ward is considered to
be in a relatively safe place (such as
a medical facility) and is not considered to be at “imminent” risk,
there may be no perceived urgency
to set a hearing date. A delay of
several months before a hearing,
however, can be detrimental to the
ward’s fragile mental health status.
Such delays also can be costly
when a potential ward is psychiatrically stable but placed in a high-cost medical hospital bed rather
than an appropriate psychiatric facility. The
potential ward may be refusing to cooperate
with treatment or the appropriate placement but is impaired to such an extent that
A delay of several months
before a hearing can be
detrimental to the ward’s
fragile mental health status.