What makes Sammy run?

Huge and helpless, schizophrenic and hypertensive, Sammy Allen has fallen between the administrative cracks of a local mental health system that can't seem to get its ACT together

ACT'S VALDEZ SAYS THAT HIS AGENCY IS LIMITED IN WHAT THEY CAN DO IN A BOARDING HOUSE SITUATION, BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT TO INTERFERE WITH ITS DAILY OPERATION. "WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO INFRINGE ON TAKING TOO MUCH OF A ROLE," HE EXPLAINS. "OTHERWISE WE TEND TO ALIENATE THE BOARDING HOME PEOPLE. IF WE PUSH A BOARDING HOME OWNER TOO FAR, WE WON'T EVEN BE ABLE TO GET IN THE DARN DOOR."

ALLEN LASTED ABOUT A WEEK AT THE FLORA MOTEL BEFORE BEING THROWN OUT FOR BEING TOO LOUD, ACCORDING TO DEFREECE. FOR APPROXIMATELY THREE WEEKS, HE BOUNCED FROM A SALVATION ARMY SHELTER NEAR PARKLAND MEMORIAL HOSPITAL TO DMHMR RESPITE BEDS (WHICH THE AGENCY MAINTAINS TO PLACE PEOPLE TEMPORARILY DURING CRISES) TO THE STREETS. IN MID-MAY, SAMMY MOVED TO A RUNDOWN SOUTH DALLAS APARTMENT COMPLEX THAT HE FOUND FOR HIMSELF. HE PAID $325 A MONTH, INCLUDING ALL UTILITIES, FOR A SMALL ONE-BEDROOM.

ON A RECENT VISIT, MOST OF THE FLOORS WERE COVERED WITH CIGARETTE ASHES, A BOTTLE OF THUNDERBIRD AND TWO BOTTLES OF WHISKEY WERE IN THE CABINET, AND TWO BARE MATTRESSES WERE PILED ON TOP OF EACH OTHER. ALLEN SMELLED BAD, THE ONE CHAIR IN HIS APARTMENT REEKED, AND HE SAID THAT HE'D BEEN FORCED TO WASH HIS BOTTOM WITH WATER FROM THE TOILET BECAUSE HE HAD NO TOILET PAPER.

SITTING IN HIS WHEELCHAIR, EYES ROLLED BACK IN HIS HEAD FROM EITHER FATIGUE OR ALCOHOL, SAMMY ALLOWED THAT HE HADN'T BEEN TAKING HIS MEDICATIONS AND SAID THAT HE WOULDN'T AGREE TO ANY INJECTIONS. HE SEEMED AMUSED AT THE MERE MENTION OF ACT, CLAIMING HE HAD NO IDEA WHEN THEY MIGHT COME BY, OR EVEN IF THEY MIGHT COME BY. AND HE COULDN'T IMAGINE WHAT THEY COULD DO FOR HIM ANYWAY, BESIDES GIVE HIM A RIDE SOMEPLACE. WHEN PRESSED, HE ADMITTED HE COULD USE SOMEBODY TO TALK TO.

HIS DAILY ACTIVITY CONSISTED OF SITTING OUTSIDE WATCHING THE TRAFFIC GO BY, SMOKING, AND MEDITATING. AND HE STILL WISHED HE COULD LIVE AT TERRELL STATE HOSPITAL. "I WENT TO PARKLAND A ZILLION TIMES," HE SAID WITH A TIRED, RESIGNED LAUGH. "THEY WON'T LET ME [GO TO TERRELL]."

TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF CASE NOTES DESCRIBE SAMMY ALLEN WANDERING THROUGH THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEMo threatening, obnoxious, noncompliant, and malingering. What doesn't get recorded is the same Sammy Allen sitting idly at his latest boarding house, garbage bags packed in anticipation of the moment when he'd be thrown out. "I pray to God I stay out of trouble," he muttered, mostly to himself. "I pray for God's mercy that I don't screw up.

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