Patient Advocate Program

patient advocacy program

The Patient Advocacy Program was created in response to California legislation requiring each county mental health director to appoint patient rights advocates to protect and further the Constitutional and statutory rights of people receiving mental health services. Click here to learn more about the Patient Advocacy Team and our procedures.

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What We Do
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San Diego County’s Behavioral Health Service’s
Program of the Year!

Patient Advocacy Team

Our Patient Advocacy program, in collaboration with Legal Aid Society of San Diego’s Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy (CCHEA), was awarded San Diego County’s Behavioral Health Service’s Program of the Year! JFS Patient Advocacy provides support for all inpatient mental health services, while CCHEA provides advocacy for all outpatient mental health services. Together, we are San Diego County’s legally designated “patient advocate.” Nominations for Program of the Year are ranked by members of the community, with the final decision made by the County’s Director of Behavioral Health. We were told this was a landslide victory! A huge congratulations to our Patient Advocacy team!

Pictured L to R: Melissa Hall, Jean McDonald, Lee Laurence, Andi Carlin, Mike Phillips, Karen Luton, Leah Straley, Whitney Wilson, and Caitlin Woodruff

What We Do

Represent patients in inpatient psychiatric hospitals. When a patient is placed on an involuntary 14-day hold, s/he is entitled to representation at a certification review hearing to determine if the hold meets the standard of probable cause or if the patient should be released from the hold. Patient Rights Advocates travel to psychiatric hospitals throughout San Diego County and represent the wishes of patients at certification review hearings, also known as probable cause hearings.

Respond to inpatient psychiatric grievances and complaints. Patient Rights Advocates investigate and respond to grievances and complaints about inpatient behavioral health services. The complaints can come from patients, family, friends, and even staff.

Provide residential advocacy. Patient Rights Advocates also provide advocacy to residents in, and investigate grievances and complaints about, Board and Care facilities, Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), Alpine Special Treatment Center (Alpine), Crestwood San Diego and Chula Vista, and the Crisis Houses in San Diego County.

Respond to inmate mental health concerns. Patient Rights Advocates provide support and a voice for male and female inmates receiving behavioral health services in the County jail system by providing representation at certification review hearings and investigating grievances.

Advocate for minors' rights. Patient Rights Advocates specialize in minors' rights and parental rights/responsibilities. Advocates investigate minors' complaints, monitor facilities providing services to minors to ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and represent minors at certification review hearings, Independent Clinical Reviews, and Roger S. Hearings.

Provide trainings. The Patient Advocacy Program provides trainings and in-services on patient/resident rights to patients in inpatient psychiatric units; residents in Board and Care facilities, SNFs, Alpine and Crestwood San Diego and Chula Vista; providers, Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, and the behavioral health community. Advocates are also certified to provide CEUs for behavioral health professionals, nurses and Board and Care Administrators.

The Patient Advocacy Program works to improve the mental health system by:

  • Regular monitoring of San Diego County hospitals, SNFs, Board and Care facilities, Alpine, Crestwood San Diego and Chula Vista, and Crisis Houses for compliance with patient’s rights laws
  • Assisting staff in ensuring that the information about patients' rights is posted in all facilities providing behavioral health services, and that all incoming clients are informed of their rights, including the right to contact JFS Patient Advocacy Program or the State Office of Patients' Rights
  • Reviewing and commenting on policies and practices which affect recipients of behavioral health services
  • Providing consultation and generating policy questions for the State Office of Patients' Rights
  • Coordinating with other advocates for system reform
  • Analyzing state and federal legislation and regulatory developments
  • Representing clients' interests in public forums

Patient Advocates work throughout the county advocating for the rights of mentally ill individuals at psychiatric hospitals, Board and Care Facilities, legal hearings, and more. Our Patient Advocates work to ensure patients are being treated with respect and their rights are being observed. 

Patient Advocacy FAQs>>


Patient Advocacy FAQs>>

For more information about the Patient Advocacy program, call (800) 479-2233 or email.

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(619) 282-1134
Toll Free:
(800) 479-2233
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(General Information)
(858) 637-3000

Turk Family Center
8804 Balboa Ave. 
San Diego, CA 92123

All communication is strictly confidential.

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