Emergency Relief for Patients at DC’s Psychiatric Hospital

St. Elizabeths patients, who are majority Black, with limited resources, and all of whom have disabilities and depend on the District for their care, were exposed to inhumane conditions as a result of the District’s mismanagement of two public health crises – a bacterial outbreak in the water supply, and the COVID-19 pandemic. When water to the Hospital was shut off in 2019 because of a bacterial contamination, critical treatment was terminated for many patients, and all patients had, for more 30 days, limited or no access to showers, other basic hygiene, and hot food. When the COVID pandemic hit in the wake of the water crisis, the District failed to put into place basic infection control measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From March to May 2020, more than 187 patients in the hospital contracted COVID resulting in 14 patient deaths. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee, on behalf of three patients, successfully sought emergency relief to ensure that the District conformed its practices to best available guidance, significantly improving patient care and lowering infection and death rates dramatically.

Read more: St. Elizabeths Settles Case with Patients Who Endured Life Threatening Conditions During Water Crisis and COVID-19

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