SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., Aug. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, Aug. 19, a group of residents in the Shorecliffs area of San Clemente caused a public disturbance by protesting outside a private home on the 2900 block of Via San Gorgonio. These neighbors yelled derogatory remarks and threatened the people inside the house. The individuals inside the home were employees of Sovereign Health and were there to prepare it for the future arrival of patients. The protest was reported by some local media outlets.
What wasn't reported by the media is the fact that on two separate occasions in the same week, on Aug. 11 and again on Aug. 17, several neighbors of this same private residence had barged unannounced into the home, threatening the Sovereign Health employees who were inside. The first incident occurred at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 11, when eight San Clemente neighbors charged into the home, telling those inside, "We know what cars you drive" and "If you don't get out of our neighborhood, things are going to get really bad for Sovereign." The perpetrators invaded the house, taking pictures and videotaping even after the employees asked them to discontinue filming. Six days later on Wednesday, Aug. 17, another group of residents rushed into the same home and threatened the employees, shouting that the house would be burned and Sovereign would be "punished in hell." On both occasions the Sovereign Health employees were terrified by the sudden invasions and feared for their safety. Both of these actions are flagrant acts of criminal trespassing and compromised the safety and well-being of those inside the home.
The San Gorgonio neighbors have demanded that the home in question be licensed per state regulations. What these neighbors didn't know, because they never bothered to ask, is that Sovereign Health has always planned to give this community exactly what it wants: a licensed facility in full compliance with California state regulations. The license for the home is currently being processed by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). No patients will reside in the home until all the licensure has been completed.
The protest on Aug. 19 against Sovereign Health was the only event reported by the media, despite the fact that criminal acts of trespassing by the San Gorgonio neighbors took place twice within a matter of days. Only one media outlet, the San Clemente Times, called Sovereign for comment. When informed of the prior two incidents, the Times acted as responsible journalists and held their story and took the time to gather information from Sovereign Health. The lack of responsible reporting over a long period of time by other media outlets calls into question the bias that exists within the media against patients seeking treatment for mental health and addiction disorders and the treatment providers who serve this population.
San Clemente and Orange County law enforcement also seems complicit in these acts. During the Aug. 11 and the Aug. 17 incidents, law enforcement officers were called to the scene, but failed to take any meaningful action. At approximately 9:30 p.m. during the Aug. 11 incident, an Orange County Sheriff's deputy arrived at the scene, but declined to file an official report. During the Aug. 17 incident, one of the protestors stated that since her husband is a firefighter, "They (911) will not do anything against us." Indeed, when the deputy arrived at the scene, he stated, "There's nothing I can do." Sovereign Health reached out to the Orange County Sheriff's Department for a statement, but was informed the deputies were "unavailable."
The animus surrounding the treatment for behavioral health patients demonstrates the ongoing real need for Sovereign's residential housing and other service providers' facilities to be protected by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These patients are clearly identified as a protected class. The type of outrageous behavior demonstrated by these San Clemente residents will continue as long as the city of San Clemente's government officials continue to stoke the flame of discontentment within the community for political gain. Because of the city's bias, San Clemente citizens feel empowered to commit these dangerous acts of vigilantism.
In addition, the misinformation coming from city officials has also added inflamed tensions. As noted in a recent article in the San Clemente Times, San Clemente's Code Compliance Services Supervisor, Brent Panas, was quoted as saying, "Because it appears residents have moved in [into the house], the city will likely file a cease and desist order against the operators." But contrary to the statement by Mr. Panas, there are no residents living in the house. Although Sovereign has reached out to the city numerous times in the spirit of being good corporate citizens while providing comprehensive behavioral health treatment services to its residents, government officials have repeatedly sought to close down Sovereign's operations.
Patients seek the services of Sovereign Health to receive treatment for mental health issues including trauma, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Sovereign also offers treatment for cognitive deficits and eating disorders. The patient population includes male and female patients covering a broad range of ages, from adolescents to adults and senior citizens. Sovereign Health is also proud to serve active United States military personnel and returning war veterans.
About Sovereign Health
Sovereign Health's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of high-quality behavioral health treatment services for adults and adolescents, including support services for family members. One factor that differentiates Sovereign from other treatment providers has been the company's ability to offer separate mental health and addiction or dual diagnosis treatment programs at its facilities. For more information, visit www.sovhealth.com.