Friends Hospital finally offers to investigate; more than four years after the abuse took place...
Tue, May 26, 2009 at 8:40 AM
... I am the Patient Representative at Friends Hospital and my job is to investigate all patient complaints. I became aware of your presence out front of the hospital recently and I have been wanting to speak with you to see if I could hear about your issue and see what I can do to investigate it. However, I have managed to miss you each time when I have walked out to the Boulevard. I came across your blog yesterday and the email address thus I am reaching out this way.
I’d like to invite you to come in and speak with me as soon as possible if that is agreeable with you. I take all complaints and concerns seriously and anytime there is an allegation of abuse, it is imperative that I look into it. Let me know and we can make arrangements.
Me to Friends Hospital. Email no. 1
Fri, May 29, 2009 at 4:38 PM
Thanks for contacting me and offering to perform an inquiry into my allegations of abuse. I only wish that your organization would have taken these steps sooner and on their own initiative rather than as a response to 17 days of sustained protesting outside your facility. It has now been more than four years since the abuse occurred, and not every victim of psychiatric abuse is going to want to endure the pain and embarrassment of broadcasting their victimization in such a public and apparently effective way. An organization like yours should not wait for a victim to go to such great lengths of seeking justice before getting involved. It should do a better job of self policing so that when a suspicious incident (such as the questionable sequence of events that transpired in my case) occurs, they will follow up with a thorough and immediate investigation. Better yet, they should have the mechanisms and procedural safeguards to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the first place. More than two years ago I tried to bring a civil suit (as a pro se plaintiff) against Friends Hospital and they hired an attorney who successfully had the case dismissed on legal shortcomings. If the high level administration \ board who hired the attorney wanted to, they could have initiated an inquiry into the allegations of abuse I described in my pleadings. Were these individuals interested in protecting the rights of abuse victims or merely in avoiding the monetary consequences of a civil proceeding? Your actions or lack thereof speak much louder than my words. I hope there is more motivating your current actions than merely PR considerations. As a facility that purports to be in the business of 'healing the mind', the welfare of your patients should have been the first and highest consideration, not a mere afterthought.
The second day of my protest, Friends Hospital did make an effort at responding. They sent out a security guard who after 20 minutes of observing me from his van came out yelling, trying to get me to leave my protest post. I was doing my best to ignore him, but then he threatened to call the police (even though I was on public property) and took out his cell. He succeeded in getting me to leave that day but I returned the next day and every day since and will be doing so for the remainder of my protest period. Why an organization would resort to such uncivil tactics to deal with abuse victims who speak out is beyond me, but please let anyone at the facility that thinks otherwise know that contrary to what happens within the closed doors of your facility, this is still a country that upholds civil rights and civil liberties, and that freedom of speech and the right to express dissent are fundamental aspects of those rights. Other forms of freedom, such as the right to be free from physical and psychological abuse are also rights that I hope your hospital staff can eventually be persuaded to recognize.
I apologize that my tone in this letter is less than cordial and I want to assure you that the coldness is not directed towards you personally. However, I can never be 'friends' with an institution that violates the most sacred and intrinsic rights that all human beings are entitled to. As far as the investigation, I want it to be rigorous and fully transparent. The 'closed door' type inquiry will not do. This is not an internal matter that concerns only you, but one that concerns the rights and welfare of psychiatric patients everywhere. I deserve to know the full details of the investigation (every step of the way) and the findings that result (every step of the way). I am not merely interested in the conclusion but I want to be kept up to date on all developments throughout the entire investigation process. Your patients deserve to know and so does the public. This is not going to be a one sided investigation conducted entirely at your discretion, but a collaborative one where the public and I will be fully active participants. We will conduct all correspondence via email so that there is a 'paper trail' and I will be posting the relevant content on the blog as it becomes available, so that this will indeed be a transparent and open process. For too long justice has been thwarted and the voice of abuse victims silenced and obscured by institutions such as yours. I will do my humanly best to see to it that it is no longer the case. If you wanted to do this investigation 'your way', you already had 4 years to do so. This investigation is not yours; it belongs to psychiatric survivors everywhere and it belongs to the public. I will be putting considerable time and effort into this process to see that it is properly carried out and meets all the objectives of rigor, transparency, and effectiveness, and I expect no less from you. Thanks in advance for your full and unconditional cooperation. I look forward to working with you.
Friends Hospital Patient Representative to me. Email no. 2
Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 2:49 PM.
I did not include here the contact information of the sender. I had specified that all correspondence shall be conducted via email. I hope this is just a misunderstanding on their part and not an indication that they are choosing not to comply with my demand for an open and transparent investigation. We will see.
Please give me a call at the number below and we can chat or schedule face to face.
Thanks for responding!
Me to Friends Hospital. Email no 2
Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 6:53 AM
If you want to meet face to face at a neutral location, that is fine. Please be advised that I will bring a voice recorder and that the entire conversation will be recorded. The recording will be transcribed and all relevant excerpts will be posted on my blog for public viewing. I will also have a witness present with me.
In the mean time, please obtain all my medical records, the names of all staff (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) who were present at the CRC during my admission period, and any other information you can gather such as the account of any staff that witnessed the incident(s). Although I believe I have most of my medical records, I would like a complete copy of this as well so that we are both referencing the same information.
I was involuntarily committed to the facility on December 5-6 of 2004. I was at the CRC waiting room (Larkspur Crisis Response Center) the entire time and the abuse occurred on December 6, but both days are relevant. I will forgo a description of the psychological abuse for now, but the physical abuse consisted of:
1. Not being provided with any water for the duration of the second day's stay at the facility (from 7:00 am to past 1:00 pm).
2. Being shaken vigorously while sleeping (a female employee).
3. Being dropped on the floor (a male employee) such that my head first hit the wall on the way down (several staff were present in the room when this happened and no one intervened).
4. Unnecessary medical procedures performed on route to Frankford Hospital: I was transported via ambulance to Frankford Hospital and I had tubes placed in my mouth, nose, and urinary tract. Two of the staff (both female) from Friends Hospital accompanied me in the ambulance and were present as this happened.
5. In addition, I was coerced into signing several sheets of papers. I had no idea what I was signing because the staff (a female employee; same as in 2.) had a piece of paper placed above the signature line each time and kept yelling at me to sign the papers.
I believe this is all the information you need to commence the document gathering. If you need a release form for my medical records, please email me the form as an attachment and I will fax it back to you.
Let me know if there is anything more that you need.
Me to Friends Hospital. Email no 3
Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 10:38 AM
I want to bring to your attention that it has now been more than 2 weeks since the last email I sent you and I still did not get a reply. I am not interested in monetary compensation but I definitely want to see that there is a thorough and transparent investigation into my allegations and that similar abuses will not happen to other patients. In my email I stated my willingness to meet with you at a neutral location with a witness present and that I will be bringing a voice recorder. If there were objections to any of those conditions, you were responsible for letting me know in a timely manner. Alternatively, we can correspond via email - which is still my preference. Hopefully your delay in responding is not an indication of your lack of willingness to cooperate. If I don't hear from you very soon, I will have to assume that is indeed the case. I hope that you will see this as an opportunity to address some of the serious problems at your facility rather than as an inconvenience. I expect a reply by the end of this week.
Friends Hospital Patient Representative to me. Email no. 3
Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 10:52 AM
Please give me a call at the number below.
Me to patient rep. Voicemail
Wed, Jul 15, 2009 (afternoon)
This is Godly Mathew. I'm the gentleman who is protesting outside. You asked me to give you a call. It's really much, much more convinient and emotionally easier for me to do this by email but I'm trying to be as reasonable as possible but give me a call back if you rather do this over the phone but I am tape recording the whole thing because I want it to be transparent. You can call me on my cell if you like [*phone number]. Thanks