Free Alison Hymes from Western State Hospital
A short while back, Charlottesville Virginia resident Alison Hymes,
long time mental health advocate and MindFreedom member, was declared
incapacitated and committed to the psychiatric ward at the University
of Virginia, UVA 5, for 30 days. Unlike most states that would require
a court order to attain such a decision, it only takes the word of two
psychiatrists to have a person declared incapacitated in the state of
She appealed this decision to the circuit court, and on Friday July
29, 2011, at 11 o’clock A.M. she had a court hearing.
Although Alaska attorney Jim Gottstein, the director of the Center for
Psychiatric Rights out of Anchorage, offered his services as a
character witness, the judge would not allow him to testify. The
result of this hearing is that Alison Hymes has been committed to
Western State Hospital in Staunton Virginia.
Alison has been in and out of the university hospital over the last
few months while friends and supporters had managed to keep her from
being sent to the state hospital. She had received a kidney transplant
after lithium poisoning from psychiatric malpractice in the past
caused her kidneys to fail. It is feared that her health will be
further jeopardized by the kind of care she is likely to receive at
Western State Hospital.
I had spoken to Alison over the telephone on numerous occasions, and
on the latest call she sounded more in control of her faculties, and
less in need of any sort of assistance, than previously. This is
certainly no reason to send her over the mountain to Western State
Hospital. The problem is that every time she has gone to the hospital
Emergency Room with a physical complaint (kidney medicine side
effects, insomnia, bladder problems, etc.) rather than seeing these
problems for the physical problems that they are, the hospital staff
has turned her over to the psychiatric unit.
“They are not letting me see a kidney doctor, and I need Lasix”, says
Alison. (Lasix is a drug used to treat fluid retention.)
Alison Hymes was once a very active and engaged member of the
psychiatric survivor and mental health consumer movement in Virginia,
and these institutionalizations have only served to dampen that spirit
of independence and resolve that she displayed.
I would like to see the old Alison back again, and this is all the
more reason to put pressure on these state officials for her return to
the community from which she has been forcibly removed.
ACTION: Please Contact Virginia Governor and Other Officials
Alison urges friends and supporters to contact the Virginia officials
with expressions of outrage and indignation over the way she has been
mistreated and her case mishandled.
Sample message–you own words are best…
“Stop the forced psychiatric treatment of Alison Hymes at Western
State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. She is in a fragile physical
state of health that is threatened even further by her conditions of
confinement within the hospital. What she needs is to see a
nephrologist, and not a psychiatrist. She would be better served by
treatment within her home community.”
If you do one action, please phone or email the Governor of the State
Governor Bob McDonnell
web contact form:
*** Please call or write Virginia’s US Senators Mark Warner and Jim
Webb. Their contact information is below:
US Senator Mark R. Warner
Phone: 202-224-2023 Washington, D.C.
US Senator Jim Webb
Phone: 202-224-4024 Washington, D. C.
*** You could also call or email the Virginia Commissioner of Mental
Health Jim Stewart
Commissioner Jim Stewart
*** You could call or email the executive director of the Virginia
Office for Rights and Advocacy, Colleen Miller