In response to Karl Fleming's column, "The Case for Hospitalizing the Mentally Ill" (Op-Ed Page, Nov. 15):
Fleming sensitively presents problems and issues affecting our community in relationship to homeless people who are afflicted with mental illness.
One very important piece of information deserves correction and understanding. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health continues to provide effective and humane service (within the budgetary constraints placed upon us) after regular clinic hours.
The Department of Mental Health provides after-hour emergency services seven days a week. This includes weekends and holidays.
Direct departmental services (24 hours per day) are maintained at the Metropolitan Crisis Evaluation Unit and by way of Psychiatric Mobil Response Teams which serve all of Los Angeles County. Additionally, DMH contracts for Emergency Psychiatric Services located at the four major County hospitals (LAC/USC, Olive View/UCLA, Harbor General/UCLA and Augustus F. Hawkins/Drew Medical).
After-hour assistance for the public can be obtained most rapidly by calling the nearest Los Angeles County hospital's Psychiatric Emergency Service Unit. An after-hour telephone provides assistance/information at (213) 686-0950. Unresolved problems can be directed to (213) 868-1721.
MARVIN MARSH, MD
Department of Mental Health
Los Angeles County