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The City Paper article “Doctor’s Orders” (5/1) should be renamed “Judge’s Orders.” I suggest that “reality therapy” is needed by the management staff of St. Elizabeths Hospital. U. S. District Court Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. placed the hospital and its management staff of the D.C. Commission on Mental Health Services in receivership in June 1997. He cited 22 years of failure by the management of the commission.
The scapegoating of the employees who blew the whistle on abuse of power was well documented in your article. The whistle-blowers who spoke out about the mismanagement were vindicated by the judge’s actions. In fact, Grant Schofield, mentioned in the article, won his case against St. Elizabeths and the U.S. Public Health Service.
Some of the other cases have not finished, with years of litigation required to get justice. In my case I have been five years seeking to resolve the abuse of power at St. Elizabeths and the USPHS.
I have worked with hundreds of whistle-blowers who were retaliated against by management, in both government and private industry. These retaliations can take the form of scapegoating the whistle-blower: Management paints a picture that would appear that these truth-tellers are crazy, lazy, and immoral. In fact, these individuals are attempting to sound the alarm that tax dollars are being wasted by the management and that abuses of power are hurting the staff and stakeholders of the organization.
The real losers at St. Elizabeths are the taxpayers and the patients. The D.C. government has spent millions of dollars in settlements and fighting cases in the deaths of patients. Other patients have in many cases been left to wander the streets in search of a home. The management staff have lied to the court about the number of psychologists, social workers, nurses, and other personnel needed to meet the needs of the mentally ill. They have mismanaged St. Elizabeths into receivership and have wasted time and money fighting the Dixon case. The Brazelon Center reported about the poor quality of care, the mismanagement of resources, and the lying to the federal judge about understaffing problems. See William Dixon, et al., Plaintiffs, vs. Marion Barry, Jr., et al., Defendants, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia No. 74-285 (AR).
I challenge the citizens of the District of Columbia to get a copy of the Dixon mandate and the judge’s decision to place St. Elizabeths in receivership. The Judge David L. Brazelon Center for Mental Health Law brought the suit. Do not take my word about the mismanagement of the hospital and the years of cheating the mentally ill. The St. Elizabeths whistle-blowers are not the problem; the management system is flawed. The judge’s order says it all.