Staunton hospital violates civil rights of Spanish speaking patient


According to a press release from Legal Aid, Western State Hospital in Staunton has violated the civil rights of a Spanish-speaking mentally ill patient. On June 2, the hospital’s Local Human Rights Committee—a citizens’ board that is part of the state human rights oversight system—concluded that the hospital violated the law in all sorts of ways.

Not only was the so-called Mr. C dealing with mental issues but his treatment was all in another language: English. This extended to his treatment plans and medication-related information. Worst of all, the hospital kept him in seclusion for more than 20 years, to the extent that they pushed his meals through a slot in the door.

As a result, the HR Committee recommended that the patient be transferred to a facility in closer proximity to his family, that he be treated by a Spanish-speaking psychiatrist, and that Spanish-speaking staff be present on all shifts at the hospital. His seclusion is also to end.

"This case is about basic human rights," said Legal Aid Executive Director Alex Gulotta, one of the patient’s attorneys. "[Mr. C] has the right to live in the least restrictive environment with compassionate and caring treatment."