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  • Writer's pictureJeannine Nash

VA Hoarding Patient

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

"Securing a new place was the most important thing we had to do..."

Hi All, I wanted to give everyone an update on the VA patient and his roommate we were helping last month. I had intended to send this email on Christmas Day since it felt that what we had been

able to do was almost miraculous, but hadn’t gotten around to it until now.

Both of the guys are now settled into their new apartment at an independent senior living community. Though it was challenging to get them to accept their need for a higher level-of-care, Angela Venda and Jeannine Nash from A Positive Choice housing placement agency were able to convince them when no one else could and secured a place for them within a few days of starting on the case. Also, after the guys told us they found a couple live bugs when opening their belongings in their new apartment, since it was Christmas Eve and we couldn’t find anyone else to do it, Angela went above-and-beyond by helping me bag and seal the guys belongings in order to contain a possible bed bug recurrence and prepare for another exterminator treatment.

Though securing a new place was the most important thing we had to do, there were other significant challenges, including dealing with their belongings, the severe bed bug infestation, and perhaps most difficult of all, helping the guys to remain relatively calm and make good decisions in a crisis situation.

I cannot overstate the role Leisah Hall and her team with Hoarding Solutions played in the final two days before the guys were evicted. Within 18 hours of being notified of the situation, after securing donated funds to help offset the cost for these guys, Leisah and her team of 5 showed up at the patient’s apartment on the last day before eviction and, over 13 hours without much of a break, were able to discard almost all of the guys belongings, save 8 boxes of essentials that Brian Blanco and his crew with the UCSD CREST program were able to pack the day prior. As if that wasn’t enough, the following day, Leisah picked up the patient’s car from the Mission Valley VA Clinic parking lot, where it had been sitting for over 2 months while the patient was in a nursing home, found live bed bugs inside of it, so took it to a detail shop to have it cleaned and chemically treated. In addition, she donated 2 hours of caregiver support for the guys the day after Christmas to help prepare for a 3rd bed bug treatment at their new apartment (the reason for which is too complicated to include in this email).

Though it took repeated gentle encouragement to get the patient to agree, Brian Blanco and his team were able to get permission to enroll the patient into the UCSD CREST program for hoarding (thank you to Dr. Colin Thomas for advising me to contact this program back in October) even though the patient did not meet the standard qualifying criteria (didn’t have MediCal). Brian’s ready availability and willingness to collaborate with multiple different people involved in this effort was instrumental in coming up with an effective game plan the final couple weeks before the eviction. And, he and Nick Stelmach’s preparation prior to interviewing the patient helped to ensure that the patient would not reject their needed help. In addition to their help packing the guys’ most essential belongings 2 days prior to eviction, they plan on starting counseling this month to try to help the guys learn to avoid getting into the same situation again. The CREST program also used some of their funds to contribute to Leisah Hall and her crew’s efforts the following day.

Dr. Tina Mayes in the VA geropsychiatry department has not only been supervising the UCSD CREST team, but she has been an invaluable source of guidance and support in multiple areas throughout the past several weeks.

Dr. Marcia Yee, VA geriatrician and director of the San Diego VA Home Based Primary Care program, as she has done so many times before, provided indispensable support and pointed me in the right directions when I wasn’t sure what to do.

Jen Walker, the patient’s care manager, has been involved in this situation with me from the get go, starting back in August. Jen maintains great rapport with her patients, even the most challenging ones. She has repeatedly advocated for this patient to receive appropriate care and she is one of the few people he trusts.

Nicole Mathis from 211 San Diego and Leticia Gonzalez, the patient’s social worker at Balboa Nursing and Rehab, provided valuable contacts, including A Positive Choice, Hoarding Solutions, and Senior Move Masters. Nicole also was the one that initiated the bed bug treatment since the guys were unable to coordinate this themselves.

Linda Diller and her team at Senior Move Masters donated all new furniture for the guys’ new apartment after we had to throw all of their old furniture away – what a Christmas present!

I am almost speechless (though obviously not entirely ) at the magnitude of everyone’s efforts – you all make San Diego a better place to live! Thank you all so much!!! Please see below for a list of contacts ( special note from APC please contact us for the list of contacts 619-678-1210 thank you)

Happy New Year!


Disclaimer: the above contact list does not represent any endorsement of these organizations on behalf of the VA. It is a list of organizations that assisted in the efforts described above, included at the request of many people to whom this email is being sent, so that they can contact each other in the future.

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