For Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, Andy Weisskoff's blog alleging inadequate mental health services at Kaiser brought back haunting memories of how — in her words — the health care giant "failed" her husband, Peter Kingston, shortly before he hung himself Jan. 18, 2011.
In the blog, Weisskoff described his concerns after one of his patients took his own life. The psychotherapist didn't use Kingston's name and he was vague about the circumstances of his death, mentioning only that "he killed himself" two weeks before Weisskoff was scheduled to see him again.
But Zane said she immediately recognized that the man Weisskoff described as a "very sweet man in his mid-fifties" was Kingston. And the criticism Weisskoff was leveling against Kaiser was accurate, she said.
"He's spot-on about Kaiser's failure to meet the mental health needs of their patients," she said. "They have failed."
Zane said Kaiser staff, including Weisskoff, did not conduct a thorough assessment of Kingston's mental health crisis. She said they failed to ask if he had ever attempted suicide, made him wait more than 40 days for his first one-on-one therapy session and did not adequately monitor the doses of his medication.
Weisskoff and Kaiser officials would not comment about Kingston's death, citing strict health care privacy laws.
In her office at the county complex in Santa Rosa, Zane keeps a large portrait of the family she and Kingston shared.
In the months leading up to his death, Kingston had become increasingly anxious about the financial situation at Ursuline High School in Santa Rosa, the all-girls Catholic school where he served as finance director.
Kingston was deeply troubled by the school's financial problems and the prospects of its closure, a fate that would affect the 130-year-old school's many students, parents and staff.
Just before Christmas 2010, Kingston sought help from Kaiser, the coverage he had through his job at Ursuline. Zane said her husband first met with Weisskoff for a brief screening and was brought back for an hourlong intake interview a week later.