3rd May 04:03
NYCLU vs. Kings County Hosp re: ugly psych pt. issues (fwd) (psychiatric)
( original url has links to the court papers, etc.)
Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Challenges Squalid Conditions at Brooklyn Hospital
May 3, 2007 -- The New York Civil Liberties Union, Mental Hygiene Legal
Service, Second Judicial Department (MHLS), and Kirkland & Ellis LLP today
filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn on behalf of thousands of New
Yorkers who have been and continue to be subjected to inhumane conditions at
Brooklyn's Kings County Hospital Center.
The lawsuit seeks to bring an end to abusive and negligent treatment of
patients at the Kings County Hospital Center's psychiatric facilities. An
extensive investigation recently conducted by MHLS, in conjunction with the
NYCLU and Kirkland & Ellis, showed that Kings County's psychiatric facilities
are overcrowded and often dangerously unsanitary and that patients -- including
children and the physically disabled -- are routinely ignored and abused.
Investigators found that patients at Kings County's psychiatric facilities are
confined in hospital wards whose floors are often covered with urine, feces and
blood. Patients frequently sleep in plastic chairs and on the floor --
sometimes for days on end. Patients are given soiled linens, if any, and
frequently go without showers and clean clothes. If a patient complains about
these conditions or asks for basic necessities, she runs the risk of being
punished with a forcible injection of psychotropic drugs. Patients who use
wheelchairs must choose between using the facility's only accessible bathroom,
which has no lock on the door; using a commode, which is rarely emptied; or
dragging themselves across a filth-covered floor in an attempt to use a
non-accessible toilet in privacy.
"It is unconscionable that here -- in the world's greatest city, in the world's
richest country -- people who need help are subjected to such appalling
conditions by the very institution that should be caring for them," said Rob
Cohen, a partner in the New York offices of Kirkland & Ellis. "This lawsuit
will improve the lives and treatment of the thousands of New Yorkers who pass
through the psychiatric facilities at Kings County."
The lawsuit, Hirschfeld v. HHC, asserts claims under the Due Process Clause of
the U.S. Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation
Act and several provisions of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law and Public
Health Law, as well as the New York State Constitution. The lawsuit demands
that Kings County Hospital Center provide mental health treatment in the safe
and sanitary manner that is required by the law and to which all people are
"MHLS's legislative mandate is to oversee the care and treatment of individuals
who are admitted to psychiatric facilities," said Dennis Feld, Deputy Director
of Special Litigation and Appeals at MHLS. "After years of negotiating with
Kings County, it became apparent that the only way to ensure that patients at
this hospital would receive treatment that was skillfully, safely and humanely
administered, with full respect for the patients' dignity and personal
integrity, was through civil rights litigation."
Sidney Hirschfeld, the director of MHLS, is the plaintiff in the case and is
acting on behalf of the constituents.
Read statements from constituents represented in this action.
Read the full complaint.
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
[to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]