‘I just want out’

Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal pa­tient to wait in jail

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RYAN ROSS

“I just want out.” That’s what a 20-year-old woman with men­tal health is­sues told a judge Thurs­day as she ex­plained why she at­tacked a Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal em­ployee three days ear­lier.

Those two punches to the worker’s head were meant to get the pa­tient sent to jail and, for the time be­ing, it worked.

The woman, who The Guardian has cho­sen not to name, was in pro­vin­cial court be­fore Chief Judge John Dou­glas for the sec­ond time in less than two weeks to deal with an as­sault charge.

Af­ter the first as­sault, dur­ing which she punched and bit a hos­pi­tal em­ployee, she didn’t end up in jail.

When Dou­glas re­fused to send her to jail the woman told him she would keep at­tack­ing peo­ple un­til she ended up there.

She kept that prom­ise and Dou­glas sent her to jail Thurs­day where she will stay in cus­tody un­til he sen­tences her next month. It was a sit­u­a­tion he ac­knowl­edged was not ideal be­cause he said it was a men­tal health case and not a crim­i­nal one. “It’s a tragic case yours.” The woman is un­der the guardian­ship of P.E.I.’s public guardian of­fice and has been a pa­tient at the Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal for al­most three years where she is con­fined to a room with only a mat­tress.

For a few days af­ter the latest at­tack she didn’t even have that. Work­ers stand out­side her door ev­ery day, all day to mon­i­tor her.

In 2013 she was in­volved in 36 in­ci­dents of self-harm or as­sault with six more in 2014.

The woman, who cried as she pleaded with Dou­glas to send her to jail, talked about the iso­la­tion she felt in her sit­u­a­tion at the hos­pi­tal.

“I have no con­trol of my life right now,” she said.

Dou­glas was not alone in rec­og­niz­ing the woman’s sit­u­a­tion was far from ideal.

Her pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer, who was as­signed af­ter last week’s sen­tenc­ing, re­ported a meet­ing was held July 13 with 22 peo­ple from var­i­ous de­part­ments and agen­cies to try and find the best so­lu­tion. That was the same day as the sec­ond at­tack.

Pos­si­ble so­lu­tions in­cluded an out-of-province op­tion or set­ting her up in her own apart­ment.

The woman, the court was told, didn’t meet the cri­te­ria for the out-of-province op­tion and fund­ing would be needed for an apart­ment.

“In the end, I can’t say there was a whole lot ac­com­plished,” the pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer said.

Thane MacEach­ern, the woman’s lawyer, said his client’s plan was to go to jail un­der her belief she could make calls on her own be­half and make ar­range­ments for some­where to stay.

He also said she wasn’t in a po­si­tion to care for her­self.

She re­peated that plan when she ad­dressed Dou­glas and promised him she wouldn’t cause any trou­ble or at­tack any­one again be­cause the only rea­son she did it was to go to jail. “I’m that des­per­ate to get out,” she said.

Af­ter re­mand­ing her into cus­tody, Dou­glas warned the woman if she caused any trou­ble in jail she would be back in court and end up back in the sit­u­a­tion she left.

“It’s your best hope of get­ting some­where more suit­able.”

The woman will be back in court on Aug. 18 for sen­tenc­ing.


More than 20 peo­ple from var­i­ous de­part­ments and agen­cies met re­cently to try and find the best so­lu­tion for a young woman who has been liv­ing at the Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal for three years and is so des­per­ate to get out she is com­mit­ting crimes so she’ll be sent to jail.

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