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Two patients at a Louisiana mental hospital filed suit against the state Wednesday, claiming their rights are being violated by not being released from the “quickly deteriorating” facility amid the coronavirus.
Storm Erie and Glenn Stelly II, who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia respectively, said the state is flouting the Americans with Disabilities Act by forcing them to stay in the Jackson, La. facility, where they aren’t being properly protected from the virus.
Hospital staff aren’t giving patients enough space to social distance and the facility is so dirty maggots grow in drains, according to the suit filed in a U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, NOLA reported.
Out of around 700 patients, 183 have contracted the virus and nine have died, the Louisiana Department of Health said.
Erie and Stelly’s attorney, Andrew Bizer, quoted the Department of Health’s description of the hospital in a budget request, calling it “deplorable, antiquated and quickly deteriorating.”
“If they were actually doing what they were supposed to be doing, which is not just warehousing these folks (but) reintegrating them into society, there would be more beds and more room,” Bizer said. “Even if there were no pandemic, they still should have been doing that.”
Erie, who was previously found not guilty for aggravated arson because of his bipolar disorder, said he had to share a hospital wing with infected patients last month and Stelly said he was given new roommates when his old ones contracted the virus, NOLA reported.
Melanie Bray, the managing attorney at Disability Rights Louisiana, told NOLA the patients have been given masks but aren’t required to wear them.
The lawsuit says that while staff first tried to quarantine patients with the virus, they gave up as more people tested positive.
The state said all patients who have tested positive have been isolated, and it’s testing hospital employees, no longer admitting inmates ruled mentally incompetent and no visitors are allowed at the facility, according to NOLA.