Tuesday, August 20

Alison Hymes case: Second message to governor Bob McDowell, Virginia

I wrote a second message to governor Bob McDowell (right) about Alison Hymes:

Dear Mr. McDowell,

This is the second time I am writing to inform that Alison Hymes is receiving a criminal treatment in Western State Hospital.
As a Brazilian citizen I do not understand how can it be that a woman is left in such situation in a facility that is making her sicker.

This is what Alison Hymes has already endured:


Woman in psychiatric hospital now suffers a brain aneurysm, is left untreated and neglected, to face death.

A Virginia woman was locked in irons and chains in August, and driven by state police to Western State Hospital, even though she is accused of no crime. A judge ruled then that Alison Hymes may be committed to the state hospital, citing a lack of insight regarding the amount of water she was drinking.

Doctors placed severe restrictions on her food and water and are treating her kidney disorder as a psychiatric condition.

Alison had a kidney transplant three years ago, after lithium toxicity caused renal failure. Psychiatrists refused to treat her kidney problems, and compounded the issue by prescribing Trilafon, a drug that has clear warnings about dangers to renal function. As a result, she has been having difficulty swallowing and has become physically weak.

A friend and advocate had a chilling prediction that may now prove to be true. "At best, Alison won't receive any real medical care for her kidney problems," said Tina, a friend of Alison's and psychiatric advocate in New York said in August. "At worst, I know there is a very real probability that this confinement and lack of medical care will kill her."

NOW it is even more urgent. A brain aneurysm has been discovered, and Alison still sits in a psychiatric ward. Her brain aneurysm could well be causing all of her psychiatric symptoms. If the aneurysm bursts, Hymes will suffer a stroke, and ALL of the psychiatric medications Alison is being given, cause an INCREASED RISK OF STROKE. Yet, Alison has been told that her brain aneurysm will not be treated. This is now a matter of life and death, for a woman with disability, perpetuated and caused by an institution that poses to help.

Her case highlights the failure of the Virginia medical system by continuing to ignore legitimate health problems and trying to mask them with psychiatric drugs that worsen her health and hasten her death."

It happened in 2011 and Dr. Jack Barber was the psychiatrist who said that her aneurysm would not be treated.
What kind of hospital is this?
I am in touch with mental health advocates in America so I know this is not an isolated case but she is in Virginia so I believe that if there is someone who can and may help this woman is Virginia's governor.
I appeal for your mercy and your humanity.
Alison Hymes has already been tortured enough. It is time to set her free so that she can recover from the crimes that are being committed to her in the Western State Hospital.
I believe that this hospital should receive a visit from Virginia state because this is not a hospital. This is a prison.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Sincerelly yours,
Ana Luiza Lima

I just found out that governor Bob McDowell is amid a scandal involving money during his campaign.
Will he have time to think about a citizen that is in such situation?

(first message here.)

Update 10/9/2013

This is the answer from Virginia's government:
Judith Ahern
11:04 (4 minutes ago)

"This is in response to your email to Governor McDonnell regarding Ms. Alison Hymes.

Periodically, friends, advocates and persons on various mailing lists connected to or contacted on behalf of Alison Hymes have conveyed concerns about her care and wellbeing to me and/or members of Congress, the Governor, members of the General Assembly, and staff of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).

Federal and state laws prevent disclosure of information about persons served in DBHDS facilities and even whether a specific, named person is being, or has ever been, served.  These laws are designed to protect patients’ privacy and rights to confidentiality.  Information cannot be released to anyone without the informed consent of the person for each and every specific and limited release of any protected information.  Accordingly, I cannot respond to your inquiry except in a general manner.

I can, however, offer some assurances about the care that is provided in state DBHDS facilities.  These hospitals, including Western State Hospital (WSH), are fully accredited by The Joint Commission (a national hospital accreditation and quality assurance organization,http://www.jointcommission.org/) and certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/CertificationandComplianc/index.html).  Accreditation involves periodic, unannounced on-site inspections by teams of national hospital experts.  The reviews measure compliance with standards of care concerning every aspect of patient care, including guarantees of patient rights and dignity, adequacy of medical care, and safety concerns.  In addition, each hospital functions under DBHDS Human Rights regulations (http://lis.virginia.gov/000/reg/TOC12035.HTM#C0115) that stipulate the rights that persons served are guaranteed and provide a structure of human rights advocates and committees to resolve complaints.  The vast majority of persons served in DBHDS facilities are committed to DBHDS care by courts under provisions of the Code of Virginia.  These laws prescribe the conditions under which a person may be committed and are conducted by judges, with independent medical evaluators and attorneys for the persons for whom commitment is being proposed.  The rights and service quality of persons served are also protected by the independent oversight of the Office of the State Inspector General and the disAbility Law Center of Virginia (formerly the Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy).  Finally, persons served may have family or legal aid supporting and advocating to help them.

Virginia’s behavioral health facilities take very seriously their responsibilities to provide the highest quality, recovery-focused care in a safe and supportive environment that fully respects the rights and dignity of the persons we serve.

We appreciate your concern that individual human rights are being honored.  Hopefully, the information above helps allay your concerns."

William A. Hazel, Jr., M.D.
Secretary of Health and Human Resources
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia  23219

Allay my concerns... no. This e-mail makes me more concerned and worried but I rather say nothing for the moment.

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