On September 30, 1992, the United States Department of Justice initiated an investigation of Eastern State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. In May 1993, the Department of ...
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On September 30, 1992, the United States Department of Justice initiated an investigation of Eastern State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. In May 1993, the Department of Justice toured and inspected the facilities, which included the Hancock Geriatric Center. The Department of Justice found that EHS failed to provide adequate psychiatric treatment to patients as required under the Fourteenth Amendment and notified the Governor of Virginia of these findings on May 6, 1994.
According to the Department of Justice, diagnostic methods at EHS did not reflect commonly accepted professional standards in that patients' symptoms, histories, and cognitive assessments were not used. As a result, many patients were misdiagnosed repeatedly during their institutionalization. Individualized planning suffered both from incorrect diagnoses and insufficient staff numbers and training. Understaffing also forced patients to live in more restrictive environments than necessary and fostered overuse of physical restraint. General medical care was inadequate and people with too little experience regularly made dosing decisions for patient care. Finally, the facility's fire prevention was substandard.
It appears that the Department of Justice was dissatisfied with Virginia's attempts to remedy the problems because, on February 8, 1995, the Department of Justice issued another findings letter, which detailed the statutory violations in addition to constitutional violations. Specifically, the Department of Justice charged that conditions at EHS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794 et seq., Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395i et seq. (establishing the Health Insurance Program for the Aged and Disabled, or Medicare), and Virginia state law, Va. Code Ann. § 37.1 ñ 84.1 (Mitchie 1994). The Department of Justice solicited Virginia's cooperation in improving conditions at ESH.
On March 4, 1996, the United States filed a CRIPA lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of individuals institutionalized at ESH against the Commonwealth of Virginia, its Governor, and its Departments of Health and Human Resources and of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, and Eastern State Hospital. On May 10, 1996, the court (Judge Leonie M. Brinkema) denied the United States' request to consolidate this lawsuit with United States v. Commonwealth of Virginia, No. 96-283, ID-VA-002. On May 21, 1996, the court dismissed the action for improper venue. That judgment was stayed to encourage settlement.
On July 18, 1996, the parties filed a settlement agreement and the court closed the case. On June 10, 1997, the parties modified the settlement. On March 25, 1999, the parties jointly asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice based on defendants' substantial implementation of the plan agreed to in the settlement agreement; the court agreed to that dismissal. (We do not have a copy of the settlement agreement.)Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/29/2006