Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/28/1996 12:35 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
       CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO.  493(JUD) am                                      
       "An Act relating  to treatment  for alcoholism or  drug                 
  Tom Wright, staff aide to Representative Ivan was invited to                 
  join the committee.   He said  under current statutes  there                 
  were  provisions   allowing  for  voluntary   commitment  of                 
  alcoholics  which  allow  for  30-day  commitment  with  re-                 
  commitment up to 90  days.  The current law was  found to be                 
  unwieldy,  expensive and treatment  options were not readily                 
  available according to a City and Borough  of Juneau survey.                 
  It also said the current commitment program was not working.                 
  He  said  this  bill  would  correlate  to  the  involuntary                 
  commitment for  mental health.   The bill also  would change                 
  the definition of  intoxication to include drugs  as defined                 
  under the controlled substance  statutes.  Senator  Phillips                 
  asked how this  would affect other communities.   Mr. Wright                 
  said the study  was done in Juneau because other communities                 
  were not using this process.  This bill is modeled after the                 
  mental  health commitments and  it would  be easier  now for                 
  other communities to use the laws.                                           
  Loren Jones, Division of Alcohol  and Drug Abuse was invited                 
  to join  the committee.   He  referred to  the statutes  for                 
  private commitment done by  doctors, physicians or relatives                 
  and involves  no representation from  the Attorney General's                 
  office.  The City of Juneau does have a municipal attorney's                 
  office and they have accepted the policy of representing the                 
  city program for that purpose.  This bill would help educate                 
  and make it  easier for  the local communities  to use  this                 
  program at  less expense  and it  would  be more  clinically                 
  appropriate.  There was support from the treatment providers                 
  but no comments from the different  municipalities.  Most of                 
  them would not be involved because those who  offer services                 
  are private, non-profit  organizations.  Co-chairman Halford                 
  said  he has had constituent  concern over the way treatment                 
  is provided  for alcohol  but not  provided for  drug abuse.                 
  Mr.  Jones  said  this  would  not  be a  mandate  on  local                 
  municipalities but would  rather rest  with the relative  or                 
  program attempting the involuntary commitment.   Co-chairman                 
  Halford said  this was  not a  local government  issue other                 
  than the fact that  Juneau has gotten interested  and gotten                 
  involved.   Senator  Rieger  referred to  page  4, line  7-9                 
  regarding commitment for  emergency care  and asked if  this                 
  was covered elsewhere in  the statutes and not part  of this                 
  bill.    Mr.  Jones  said the  emergency  care  was  covered                 
  elsewhere and was for 48 hours.  It would not be affected by                 
  this bill.  By the end of  the 48 hours the individual would                 
  have to be in Court.                                                         
  Don Dapcevich, State  Advisory Board on Alcoholism  and Drug                 
  Abuse was invited to join the  committee.  He said this bill                 
  was top  priority for  the citizen's advisory  board.   This                 
  bill  reflected   the  necessary  strategy   to  deal   with                 
  inebriation.  Treatment providers  around the state strongly                 
  supported the bill.  The cities of Ketchikan, Dillingham and                 
  Bethel  have  expressed  interest  learning more  about  the                 
  mechanics of doing commitments  and training individuals  to                 
  provide earlier help.   This would  be a viable strategy  to                 
  use  in the State, a way  to save lives and   would help get                 
  people into treatment.                                                       
  (tape change to SFC-96, #99, side 1)                                         
  Senator  Phillips asked why  the City and  Borough of Juneau                 
  was involved  and other communities are not.   Mr. Dapcevich                 
  said the  other municipalities  do not  run their  treatment                 
  programs  and  therefore  do  not   become  involved.    The                 
  municipality here  operated the  hospital, treatment  center                 
  and emergency  services patrol and  they felt the  impact of                 
  public inebriation more strongly.                                            
  Co-chairman  Halford  referred to  amendment  #1 and  it was                 
  moved by Senator Zharoff.                                                    
  Barbara  Craver,  assistant City  and  Borough  attorney was                 
  invited  to  join the  committee.    She said  she  has been                 
  involved   in  the  filing   of  petitions  for  involuntary                 
  commitments  on  behalf of  the  administrator of  the local                 
  treatment center,  Juneau Recovery Hospital.   She addressed                 
  amendment #1 as moved by Senator  Zharoff.  It would address                 
  the situation encountered  in Juneau  and would clarify  the                 
  law that would  provide a better  continuum of care for  the                 
  treatment of alcoholics.  She explained the routine from the                 
  emergency  services patrol  to  Bartlett Hospital  emergency                 
  room and the transfer  to a treatment center if  the patient                 
  is found to  be medically stable.  If  the individual is not                 
  found medically stable  they are held at  Bartlett Hospital.                 
  The individual  may  be  held  for  up to  48  hours  on  an                 
  emergency alcohol commitment.   A public treatment  facility                 
  may hold an individual up to  five days with Court approval.                 
  The clinical staff would  at this time make the  decision to                 
  contact the attorney's  office in order  to file a  petition                 
  for  involuntary commitment.    Under current  statute  this                 
  continuum is  not clearly  authorized.   The problem  arises                 
  that a person admitted  to a public treatment  facility must                 
  both be incapacitated by alcohol and intoxicated.   After an                 
  individual has been  in the hospital for 12  - 24 hours they                 
  are no longer  intoxicated.  The  hospital must let them  go                 
  and wait  for them  to enter  the cycle  again another  way.                 
  This amendment  would clearly authorize  a public  treatment                 
  facility to place  a hold  on an individual  located at  the                 
  hospital  due  to medical  issues  and the  individual would                 
  transferred to the treatment facility  upon release from the                 
  health facility.    Senator Rieger questioned  the liability                 
  matter and  specifically referred  to page  7, line  3.   He                 
  suggested to cover this the word "shall provide adequate and                 
  appropriate treatment".  What  if a mistake were made?   Ms.                 
  Craver referred  to section (d)  AS 47.37.200 and  said this                 
  placed the burden  on the  petitioner to prove  there is  an                 
  appropriate treatment facility for  the individual's alcohol                 
  problem.   The  concern is  based on  if there  is a  viable                 
  treatment  option  available in  the  State.   The liability                 
  issue would occur earlier.                                                   
  Mr. Jones  said  the  definition  of  a  public  or  private                 
  facility  was a treatment facility that was grant funded and                 
  approved by the division.    Co-chairman Halford and Senator                 
  Rieger expressed concern over limitation on liabilities.  He                 
  asked Senator Rieger  to work  on an appropriate  amendment.                 
  Senator Rieger was also concerned about "good cause".                        
  Co-chairman Halford said  he would  hold  Senator  Zharoff's                 
  amendment  #1  pending  and  he  further  held  the bill  in                 
  Co-chairman Halford recessed the meeting  at 2:10 P.M. until                 
  5:00 P.M.  if the  Senator Floor  session recessed  in time.                 
  Otherwise calendar would  be carried over until  tomorrow at                 
  9:00 A.M.                                                                    

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