DEDHAM — The mother of a Bridgewater State Hospital inmate agreed to settle her lawsuit on Thursday alleging that guards were illegally keeping her son in isolation or strapped to a bed, sometimes for days at a time, after state officials agreed to make drastic changes in her son’s treatment for paranoid schizophrenia.
Joanne Minich sued the state Department of Correction and mental health care providers in March, charging that her son Peter’s mental health was rapidly declining because prison administrators and clinicians had kept him alone in a small cell, at times fastened to a bed, for thousands of hours over the past 14 months.
Under the agreement approved by a Superior Court judge, hospital officials promised to house Peter Minich in the infirmary rather than the Intensive Treatment Unit, where he was often isolated and restrained. They also pledged to use seclusion and restraints only in emergencies as “a last resort.”
“The agreement is very good for Peter but there are more than 300 people there, many of whom spend time in seclusion and restraints, who will not benefit from this,” said the Minich family’s attorney, Roderick MacLeish Jr. “The basic problems at Bridgewater remain systemic and uncorrected.”
The agreement also calls for Bridgewater officials to develop a “behavioral modification plan” for Minich, 31, with a goal of reducing his assaultive and self-destructive behavior and transferring him to a less restrictive facility run by the Department of Mental Health.
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