Click Here for a newscast of this event  (NY1)
The psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital is a shameful “chamber of filth, decay, indifference and danger” where patients are subjected to overcrowded conditions, physical abuse and unnecessary injections of mood-altering drugs, a federal lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Sidney Hirschfeld, head of Mental Hygiene Legal Service, a state agency, paints a portrait of horrors at the psychiatric ward where patients – including children and the physically disabled – are routinely neglected and abused.
In a statement, Alan Aviles, president of the city’s Health and Hospitals Corp., said the claims are irresponsible and unfounded.
According to the lawsuit, a shortage of beds at the ward forces patients to sleep on foam mats or directly on a floor that is often covered with blood and urine.
Blankets, pillows and pillowcases are scarce, but when they are available, it’s common to find them stained with dirt, urine, blood and lice and reeking of body odor, the suit claims.
Soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and even toilet paper are rare commodities, the suit says.
The lawsuit describes serious neglect and abuse by the staff and police at the Brooklyn hospital, where officers have dragged, kicked and punched patients, the suit claims.
According to the suit, patients deemed “difficult” are handcuffed and forcibly injected with mood-altering drugs and beatings.
“It’s a scandal – the conditions here hark back to the Dickensian conditions in the worst facilities that you can think of,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiff.
Aviles conceded the psychiatric ward is “one of the busiest in the nation” and “often experiences overcrowding.” He said the corporation has earmarked $140 million to build a larger state-of-the-art facility, to be completed in fall 2008.