NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 3, 2014

Family joins suit against Bridgewater

(Continued)

The suit cites statistics showing the use of seclusion and restraint at Bridgewater “is 100 times greater than it is at the other five facilities administered by the Department of Mental Health, combined.”

Zomosa was sent to Bridgewater in April 2013 after allegedly assaulting a doctor at BayRidge Hospital in Lynn. Since arriving at Bridgewater, he’s been placed in seclusion and in restraints numerous times, over hundreds of hours, including after “appearing disorganized and paranoid.”

During the same time period, incident reports show that correctional officers used “spontaneous force” on Zomosa, even during incidents when he was described as “calm and compliant.”

He was also allegedly secluded and restrained even after he was the victim of another inmate, including an incident last September in which he was punched in the eye and suffered a fracture.

As his mental status continued to deteriorate, his lawyers say, the response has been to increase the amount of time he spends in isolation and restraints.

Under state law, patients are supposed to be placed in seclusion or restraints only in “emergency” situations, described in the statute as “the occurrence of, or serious threat of, extreme violence, personal injury or attempted suicide.”

Zomosa’s lawyers say Bridgewater used the restraints regularly on him, including an incident in which he kicked the door to his cell and made a “series of odd statements,” including nonsensical ramblings.

Though civilly committed for treatment, Zomosa and other patients do not receive any sort of consistent care, the suit says. The facility lacks an electronic records system, making it impossible for a doctor in one part of the facility to know what another doctor has prescribed elsewhere.

“Mr. Zomosa’s continued presence at Bridgewater represents a threat to his life,” his lawyers wrote.

And a man who had no history of violence prior to the alleged BayRidge incident has increasingly acted out against others, as part of his paranoid delusions, said his attorneys.

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