Free Alison Hymes from Western State Hospital by Frank Blankenship A short while back, Charlottesville Virginia resident Alison Hymes, long time mental health advocate and MindFreedom member, was declared incapacitated and committed to the psychiatric ward at the University of Virginia, UVA 5, for 30 days. Unlike most states that would require a court order to attain such a decision, it only takes the word of two psychiatrists to have a person declared incapacitated in the state of Virginia. She appealed this decision to the circuit court, and on Friday July 29, 2011, at 11 o'clock A.M. she had a court hearing. Although Alaska attorney Jim Gottstein, the director of the Center for Psychiatric Rights out of Anchorage, offered his services as a character witness, the judge would not allow him to testify. The result of this hearing is that Alison Hymes has been committed to Western State Hospital in Staunton Virginia. Alison has been in and out of the university hospital over the last few months while friends and supporters had managed to keep her from being sent to the state hospital. She had received a kidney transplant after lithium poisoning from psychiatric malpractice in the past caused her kidneys to fail. It is feared that her health will be further jeopardized by the kind of care she is likely to receive at Western State Hospital. I had spoken to Alison over the telephone on numerous occasions, and on the latest call she sounded more in control of her faculties, and less in need of any sort of assistance, than previously. This is certainly no reason to send her over the mountain to Western State Hospital. The problem is that every time she has gone to the hospital Emergency Room with a physical complaint (kidney medicine side effects, insomnia, bladder problems, etc.) rather than seeing these problems for the physical problems that they are, the hospital staff has turned her over to the psychiatric unit. "They are not letting me see a kidney doctor, and I need Lasix", says Alison. (Lasix is a drug used to treat fluid retention.) Alison Hymes was once a very active and engaged member of the psychiatric survivor and mental health consumer movement in Virginia, and these institutionalizations have only served to dampen that spirit of independence and resolve that she displayed. I would like to see the old Alison back again, and this is all the more reason to put pressure on these state officials for her return to the community from which she has been forcibly removed. ~~~~~~~~~~ ACTION: Please Contact Virginia Governor and Other Officials Alison urges friends and supporters to contact the Virginia officials with expressions of outrage and indignation over the way she has been mistreated and her case mishandled. Sample message--you own words are best... "Stop the forced psychiatric treatment of Alison Hymes at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. She is in a fragile physical state of health that is threatened even further by her conditions of confinement within the hospital. What she needs is to see a nephrologist, and not a psychiatrist. She would be better served by treatment within her home community." ~~~~~~~~~~ MAIN ACTION: If you do one action, please phone or email the Governor of the State of Virginia: Governor Bob McDonnell (804) 786-2211 web contact form: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm ~~~~~~~~~~ EXTRA ACTIONS *** Please call or write Virginia's US Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Their contact information is below: US Senator Mark R. Warner http://warner.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?p=ContactPage Phone:202-224-2023Washington, D.C. US Senator Jim Webb http://webb.senate.gov/contact.cfm Phone:202-224-4024Washington, D. C. *** You could also call or email the Virginia Commissioner of Mental Health Jim Stewart Commissioner Jim Stewart (804) 786-3921 firstname.lastname@example.org *** You could call or email the executive director of the Virginia Office for Rights and Advocacy, Colleen Miller Colleen Miller 804-225-2042 email@example.com
I am an writer struggling with bipolar 1. I have been an entertainment writer and blogger, and worked for a news agency as a fact checker and biographer, as well as a writer. Currently I share my home with a cat, a striped tabby named Holly.