Western State Hospital, Washington, Washington State DSHS, Governor Gregoire - Enough Is Enough, Please Let Emily Go!
(This post is written from correspondence and documents supplied to myself by Emily’s loving Mother & caring advocate.)
Let me introduce you to “Emily” who has been “imprisoned”/interned @ WSH since Sept. 2009 while being forced medicated with powerful mind altering drugs – Emily wants to go home, and sends you a public plea to help her regain her dignity, humanity, health, liberty, and freedom.
Emily @ 16
What is Emily’s crime you may ask?
Her non-crime is to be deemed “gravely disabled” and “mentally unhygienic” in the State of Washington.
What is her sentence you might ask?
Her sentence is actually indeterminate imprisonment of both length and duration (since it can be continually renewed indefinitely), which includes being forced drugged with dangerous substances and being subjected to inhumane, counterproductive, and un-therapeutic conditions with very little/no actual rehabilitative services or effective treatments modalities/choices being offered to her. All of this continues unabated today while Emily is being further isolated from her family, loved ones, and her community.
I encourage each of you to read the first post I shared Western State Hospital and DSHS - More inhumanity and the denial of basic human rights
And then I will ask you to keep that first message in the back of your mind as you read the words posted here today.
A more recent photo of Emily 2007
In 2001 WSH gave Emily a diagnosis of schizophrenia within 72 hours of admission. At that time WSH used forced drug treatment upon Emily during this initial 90 days court ordered internment.
The mother recalls that Emily was frightened, manipulated, and coerced by WSH staff members into making repeated daily statements related to a then pending legal accusations/charges including “if convicted, 8-10 years of prison” and related statements even though she had and continues to this day to profess her innocence. This really clarifies the hard reality that once the courts and psychiatry deem “you” mentally ill, you lose all your rights against self incrimination, to have legal representation available and present, and to remain silent.
Taking into account these following facts:
· Emily was continually under the influence of powerful mind altering substances administered by WSH
· Was being imprisoned/interned in a very high stress and dangerous environment where daily detrimental coercion was taking place by WSH staff members
· Had been deemed gravely disabled and mentally incapacitated by the court
· Demonstrated a limited/diminished capacity/ability and understanding of conversational spoken English with no interpreter present
· Should have been presumed innocent of any crime until proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law by a jury of her peers
This internment certainly could easily be construed and appear as a gross violation of her legal, human, civil, and constitutional rights.
Emily would on occasion ask her mother "what does it mean?' (Emily’s mother herself lacks complete mastery and competency in the English language)
Why Emily has not been given an interpreter, and why she was subjected to constant coercion throughout this process seems startlingly peculiar at best, or at worst unconscionable violations of her basic humanity and civil rights.
Kangaroo courts and using coercive methods does not amount to justice in America!
At present Emily resides on housing unit S-9 under the charge of WSH Psychiatrist. The described interaction with staff by the mother runs in direct opposition to DSHS stated policy for family and community involvement within the therapeutic and recovery process for all patients held in the DSHS mental health system. During the first 90 days of this stay in WSH the mother wrote a complaint (to WSH patient relations) based upon observed neglect related to Emily’s appearance. The mother has taken pictures of Emily attired in stained and soiled clothing, and of the disheveled and unhygienic conditions of her shared room.
In December 2009 Emily’s mother requested information about a recent medication change/adjustment from attending WSH staff, The nurses refused to provide any of this information stating “we are not allowed to give out any of this information”, at which time she was directed to Emily’s social worker Anneliese Simmons. The next day the social worker told Emily’s mother that she would have to go through the medical records department at WSH to request copies @ a cost of $1 per page, and then the social worker handed the mother a little hand written related note.
In response to the mother reporting poor conditions and request for information/medical records the staff of WSH appears to have used intimidation and retaliatory methods/responses; as evidenced by the social worker summoning security to escort the mother off the unit in a response to the mother simply requesting to view the medication records and notes related to her daughters care. Three security personal came to visitors room and asked the mother to leave in Emily’s presence. Upon witnessing how the mother was being treated in this poorly constructed and WSH created confrontational situation, Emily became understandably very upset, scared and frustrated.
These alleged retaliatory acts were followed up by a call from WSH Personal informing Emily’s mother that her visitation rights were suspended for one month due to “her” causing Emily to become upset. This action was followed by a similar letter from WSH personal. It appears at no time did WSH staff recognize there was an obvious language bearer and lack of understanding taking place here. They obviously took no measures to seek an interpreter or encourage family participation in Emily’s care and supposed/questionable WSH recovery process.
In fact they behaved in the standard WSH mode of operation, by targeting caring family members and concerned parties with outrageous retribution and denial of access to patients. This is standard practice at WSH; blame the patient, blame the illness, and definitely blame the family with a psychiatric megalomania type goal of complete and total ownership/control over their interned mental health population.
Let me note here, I stand witness and can testify to the intimidation tactics/techniques used both in direct threats and acts of retaliation commonly used by WSH staff; including threatened bans from visits, outings, fresh air time, and also in direct violation to a patient’s right to independent advocacy services.
WSH has an ongoing ingrained and detrimental culture of total patient ownership and secrecy; all the while treating caring and concerned family members, concerned community members, and patient advocates as the deemed imposing opposition party, as they view, interact, and take actions toward them as an automatic assumed threat, and often do everything in their power to discourage and create tremendous obstacles to family and community participation.
WSH hides a whole lot behind those locked institutional doors, and they do not want the public or a free press to see what really goes on in this very secretive and professionally paranoid institution. They hide behind the letter of HIPPA laws, but in actual practice it’s all about the complete and total isolated control hidden away from public view without any working/functional accountability or check & balance system in place.
During the following months and throughout the spring multiple requests for a release/treatment plans and family outings by Family and Emily were met with mute responses by WSH and Emily’s unit care staff. Do we again need to raise the questions and concerns over WSH Staff retaliating against patients, families, and concerned community members in violation of stated policy and law?
Emily’s mother stands witness to the treatment and conditions she observed at WSH.
She stated: “treatment conditions are awful just because of surrounded people,
which a lot of times they were laying on the floor, yelling and
screaming, crying, slapping doors, stomping feet etc. The word
TREATMENT does not reflect its meaning in those surroundings and
conditions of total isolation from family, friends, nature, fresh air,
movements, favorite activities, privacy, and liberty.”
Emily’s mother’s and my own deep concern regarding these ongoing treatment conditions related to forced coercion, incessant harassment, living constantly veiled under an umbrella of fear, questionable personal Hygiene/safety environmental conditions, and the humiliating/dehumanizing reality of not being recognized or treated as simply a whole respected and dignified human being. I would have to conclude that the ongoing conditions that WSH mental health wards operate under are considered completely and totally unacceptable in any humane and civilized society, let alone here in America 2010.
When Emily’s Mother was asked: Has Emily’s conditions improved or deteriorated over this prolonged incarceration at WSH?
She replied “Her condition worsened obviously”
Emily reported that the forced toxic pills she was on make her indifferent to anything and everything: Emily’s mother stated that Emily’s pulse at rest is 100+ (last September at ER was 62), her blood sugar is above normal, one reading was 169 which indicates diabetic level. She now appears very melancholy, discouraged, broken of spirit, and relayed deep hurt inside. Emily’s mother stated that in the beginning when she was injected drugs it made her sound so confused that I was horrified and very sad for the outcome. she also reported Emily was nauseated, dizzy, extremely sleepy, sad, depressed, she started to exhibit signs related to having tardive dyskinesia of trunk with constantly moving back and forth while sitting. Her mother stated that at first I thought it is from boredom, but when I learned more from research about side effects of these drugs, I understood it is from dysplasia of Basal ganglia in the brain. When I pointed that out to her psychiatrist (he increased Prozac to 80 milligrams, and it reduces visual symptoms of tardive dyskinesia), so she has less trunk movement, but it is still there.
The mother ends this correspondence with saying “My daughter always communicates
with me telling what she would like, but she is also lost her much of her will power.”
I would ask that we all speak out against injustice, and for humane treatment. After all, these are some of our most innocent, vulnerable, and endearing citizens. Will you be part of a movement to give Emily and her family the gift of hope, love, and compassion? The time has come to join mindfreedom, myself, and other concerned patient advocates in speaking out on Emily’s behalf against our modern day entrenched institutional abuse?
Contacts to make your voice heard:
E-MAIL Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire @ http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/ Or call her @ Governor's Office 360-902-4111
I hope to be sharing and writing more about Emily’s journey in the coming days, weeks, months, or until Emily finally receives some small measure of justice, and is freed from her detrimental internment at WSH.