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Maura K Patten

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 4 months ago

 Complaints ignored




A Virginia state mental hospital failed to treat a patient with severe respiratory disease after her family complained that she was dying, according to hospital documents. She was found dead four days later.


Western State Hospital records show nothing was done for Maura K. Patten between July 3, 1997, when her sister told the hospital Ms. Patten feared she was dying, and July 7, when she was found dead in her bed at the hospital.


"The hospital. . .let her rot," said Ms. Patten's brother, Ted Patten of Arlington.


Ms. Patten, 41, nearly died from respiratory failure in 1994.


The circumstances of Ms. Patten's death are similar to those of another state mental patient who died in June 1996 after lying for 300 hours in restraints during the final month of her life. Gloria Huntley's former physician had warned a year earlier that she could die in restraints because of serious medical problems. Her death prompted a sharp rebuke of Central State Hospital by the U.S. Justice Department.


"Ultimately, both of these cases demonstrate the level of inhumanity institutional life can sink to," said Valerie L. Marsh, director of the Virginia Alliance for the Mentally Ill. "To my mind when you have someone in a hospital who says they are dying, I believe you have an obligation to check it out whether you believe it or not."


Another death at Western State resulted in a $10 million lawsuit last month by a man who claims workers at the hospital killed his 19-year-old son by sodomizing him with a "broom-like handle." The hospital said it did not harm the teenager.


Ms. Patten, who suffered from schizophrenia, had two children during her seven years at Western State. In March 1990, when she was three months pregnant, she was discharged from Western State, sent briefly to a northern Virginia mental health facility, and ended up living in an abandoned station wagon in Arlington. Police took her to a hospital where she had a baby girl. Soon afterward she was returned to Western State, Patten said. Two years later, Ms. Patten again became pregnant at Western State and gave birth to a boy. Ted Patten has been trying ever since to find out if the fathers were patients, staff, or both. Western State said it didn't know.


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