I READ with great interest Michael Rezendes’ article on the death of Joshua Messier at Bridgewater State Hospital. (“A death in restraints under ‘standard procedures’ ” Page A1, Feb. 16). Messier died shortly after guards placed their knees on his back, something every mental health nurse and worker is taught never to do.
Rezendes is correct in saying that Bridgewater is a correctional facility. In the late 1980’s McLean Hospital tried to give it a medical orientation, but lost the contract. Bridgewater will always be a prison as long as it is run by the Department of Correction.
In the late 1980s when a lawsuit was filed, the state responded with the building of a secure, highly staffed multi-million facility on the grounds of Medfield State Hospital under the Department of Mental Health. Patients with Messier’s illness could be referred there when they became too difficult to handle elsewhere. No charges needed to be filed. The special unit did not survive the closing of Medfield State in 2003.
As long as there is no safety valve, staff in both private and other state facilities will be unable to cope with these patients, and there will be other needless deaths.