Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP

by

Dear Andrew Williams and Randy Pettapiece,

Recently, my father was hospitalised for schizophrenia in the psychiatric ward at the Stratford General Hospital. This was good news. It was a welcome change after months of increasingly abusive and dangerous behaviour on his part that affected the entire family. Not only was he suffering from disordered thoughts and paranoid delusions, he lost his impulse control with regard to money (and some other things as well). Due to his condition he lacks the ability to deal with his own finances. He was admitted to the Stratford General Hospital and shortly thereafter, a medical tribunal determined that he was not competent to make his own medical decisions. My mother was assigned to be his medical decision-maker and power of attorney.

Yesterday, we found out that some unscrupulous lawyer visited the Stratford General Hospital to arrange the papers so that my dad could transfer his medical decision-making and power of attorney away from my mother, and give it to another patient on the psychiatric ward. As far as we know, this other patient is just some guy that my dad met less than two weeks ago when he was admitted. The name sounds made-up, though, so for all we know, it’s not his real name. This “other patient” could even be a delusion of my dad’s.

Needless to say, we were upset.

We contacted the lawyer to ask him what he thought he was doing. He said he didn’t do anything—that it was my dad who made it happen, and that he had training to determine when someone was competent to make such decisions. We will be inquiring about what legal options we have against this individual.

When we told our own lawyer about the problem, his administrative assistant broke out laughing, because it was such a ridiculous turn of affairs. He advised us to get a letter from dad’s psychiatrist, and on the basis of such a letter, it would be possible to have this transfer of power of attorney reversed. This seemed reasonable. On contacting the doctor, we were told that he could not release such a letter, since my dad has requested that his medical information not be shared with us (one of his paranoid delusions is that we’re out to get him), and my mother no longer had her status as his medical decision-maker and power of attorney.

In the face of this Catch-22, we’re not sure what to do next. As of today, the doctors at the Stratford General are still refusing to provide a letter indicating my dad’s condition, because they are afraid of being sued.

I’d like to emphasise at this point that the unscrupulous lawyer got paid for what he did. Paid with money. He came in to the locked ward of the Stratford General and walked out substantially richer, thanks to money he took from a person who was determined by a medical tribunal to be incapable of making his own medical decisions.

If someone walked into a hospital and found an old woman with dementia and exploited her condition for his own financial gain and gave her nothing in return, that conduct would be reprehensible, but it still wouldn’t be as bad as what this lawyer did to my dad yesterday. Not only did he take money from someone whose mental condition renders him incompetent to handle his own financial affairs, but he made it a thousand times harder for us to get my dad back on his meds to stop the paranoia and abuse.

But the really perverse part about this whole system is that if I were to march into his office and punch his face in like he deserves, somehow I would become the bad guy. (For the record, though, I would never do this.)

I have two questions. One for the CEO of the hospital and one for the MPP for Wellington-Perth.

Andrew Williams: When do your doctors plan on doing the right thing for their patient and his family?

Randy Pettapiece: What pressure are you going to bring to bear on this situation? Can you help us to ensure that the lawyer is dismissed from the bar in Ontario, and that my father receives the care he needs?

Yours angrily,

Benjamin Carlisle MA (Biomedical ethics)

Cc: Leona Aglukkaq MP, Deb Matthews MPP, Dr Brian Goldman (feel free to spread this around)

(Edit 21h00—the original version had more cursing, but as my friend advised, “Try not to swear so that your interlocutor doesn’t have an excuse to dismiss you.”)

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2012-3132,
    title = {Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-11-16,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/16/catch-22-in-mental-health/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 16 Nov 2012. Web. 15 Dec 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/16/catch-22-in-mental-health/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Nov 16). Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/16/catch-22-in-mental-health/


6 responses to “Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP”

  1. Jazz says:

    Murph! that’s rediculous!! let me know if you need people to start sending hate mail/ sign a petition etc. Maybe posting said scumbag lawyer’s name/ email would be useful as well…

  2. Murph E. says:

    It’s tempting, but I think we’ll try to deal with the lawyer through official channels.

  3. Student Dr says:

    Just read the blog about your dad. Sorry to hear about what’s happening to your dad. If you don’t mind sharing a bit more info, was your dad on a Form? If so which one? It doesn’t make sense that a solicitor could gain entry to a psychiatric ward so easily. Power of Attorney also cannot be transferred without a competence assessment. This is required on a Form 3 or Form 4, which should have been detailed with your mother at the time of PoA transfer. And the doctor you spoke to, was it the attending Psychiatrist? I would be hard-led to believe that an attending would refuse such a statement if he/she was involved in the patient’s care prior to the ‘second’ PoA transfer. Also, the fact that there was a tribunal previous – should the tribunal be the decider upon review of the patient’s competence as he was probably admitted involuntarily?

    More research into who can decide competence should be followed up on.

  4. Murph E. says:

    There are a lot of things that don’t make sense here.

    As for whether dad was on a form? Good luck finding that out. The people at the hospital have been keeping us in the dark about the whole thing.

    For example on October 25, the doctors told my mother that they would call her at 9h00 with the ACTT team to discuss my dad’s behaviour over the last few months. They told my mom to prepare her notes regarding what had happened, and we all spent a good amount of effort putting together our accounts of what dad’s been doing, so that we could accurately describe his symptoms.

    They never called. We found out afterward that they decided not to include mom on the conversation, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to let us know. Mom waited for hours by the phone. Thanks, SGH.

    Then, when the medical tribunal occurred, the hospital would neither confirm nor deny that it was even happening. In fact, when mom was made the alternate decision-maker, no one bothered to tell her, and we didn’t find out until days afterward. The staff at the hospital have been hostile, manipulative and unprofessional.

    It is hard to believe that this would happen, but it is happening to my family right now.

    On the upside, I got an email from Andrew Williams this morning at 11h13, who forwarded my correspondence to Penny Cardno, the Director of the SGH Mental Health Program. I have been assured that she will “touch base with me directly.”

  5. Morty says:

    Sorry that this has happened. Let us know if there is anything we can do help. It must be frustrating to be far away from your mom and also frustrating to be far away from the situation when the immediate instinct is to just meed face-to-face with people and talk some sense into them.

  6. anton says:

    Murph,
    I’m so sorry and sad this is all happening to you and family! I can only imagine the emotions that “pass through your veins” right now. I certainly hope for resolution to this debacle.
    Praying for you and family.
    We’ll talk soon.

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