State Sanctioned Elder Abuse?
By Joseph Snook
Wisconsin – Imagine your spouse passing away and you are left all alone. Imagine having no children or family near and being in a country that is foreign to you. Now imagine the state in which you have lived, taking your home, all of your belongings, forcing you to take heavy drugs and locking you up in a place called Trempealeau County Health Care Center (a mental health facility). Now imagine a system of government supposedly set up to correct these wrongful actions, but it does just the opposite. That is what has reportedly happened to the widow of deceased war veteran, Harlan Skarvan, Shigeko Skarvan of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
In January, I wrote an article titled “Elderly Woman Forced into State Custody”, which has generated a great deal of feedback and can be viewed at www.usobserver.com. It was reported that Shigeko Skarvan was wrongfully diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder and/or Severe Manic Depression by Dr. Ruben Adams and, with the help of Psychiatrist, Bhaskar Reddy who are reportedly on Trempealeau County Health Care Center’s payroll. How does an elderly woman who is disputing these actions obtain another medical examination so that she can regain her freedom and disprove these medical conditions? That is what Governor Jim Doyle and his staff have failed to answer.
Pass the Buck Politics
Since my initial investigation which began in November of 2009, I have learned that Governor Doyle himself has ignored these serious allegations making him just as responsible as the people directly involved. I have contacted the Ombudsman of Wisconsin and was put into contact with Amy and Heather who could only state that there was a complaint filed and nothing was found to warrant any further investigation.
Next was contacting the facility directly and with no returned phone calls, one would have to assume that Trempealeau County HCC has something to hide. Next, I contacted the Governor’s office directly and was put in contact with Communications Director for the Department of Health Services, Mr. Seth Bofelli. I addressed the issue that Shigeko needed to have an independent medical exam by a doctor other than one on the states payroll, which would make sense given the allegations and Seth agreed, but didn’t know what the procedure was, and had to get back to me. When Seth called back the following week, he stated that there was already an investigation regarding this issue in 2007 and he had filed another complaint and this would be looked into again. Even though this wasn’t getting a second medical exam, I had no choice but to think we were headed in the right direction. During our next phone conversation, which was weeks later, Seth stated that the facility was investigated and there was nothing found to warrant any further investigation. I asked Seth what the investigation consisted of and his response was “staff was interviewed and records were reviewed”. I then asked him about the second medical exam and he stated that Shigeko’s legal guardian could request one. I informed him that would be a conflict of interest because Shigeko’s guardian was court appointed and is also reportedly one who aided in the efforts to get her locked up. On April 6, 2010 I was told by Seth that he would find out what needs to happen for Shigeko to receive a second medical exam. As of June 1, 2010, Seth has failed to call.
Without help from Seth Bofelli, which is a blatant neglect of his obligations and a poor reflection upon Governor Doyle whom he represents, I was forced to call the Secretary for the Department of Health Services, Karen Timberlake. I left a message for her secretary Stephanie Smiley and had a returned phone call that same day. Upon explaining the situation, Stephanie stated she would like to have an answer for me by the following Monday. The following Wednesday, the 26th of June, I received an email from Stephanie. Attached was a Chapter 55 application for “Adults-At-Risk Related Services”. Upon reading the application, I found that the sole responsibility for getting another medical exam was the duty of the court appointed legal guardian.
Over 6 months and no direct answers, this was just more of the same run around from Governor Doyle’s staff. There was also an option for a Guardian Ad Litem to conduct an investigation into these allegations, but that would be a conflict of interest as well because the ad litem guardian has to come from staff of an agency that is part of the APS (Adult Protective Services) or contracted with the APS system or, get this; from a person of the placement facility. When talking to Stephanie, she was unable to give me an answer and said that what I was requesting was out of the realm of her department and that I needed to contact the courts for further direction.
Governor Doyle’s Neglect
After talking to many people, without anything accomplished other than realizing that there is a pass the buck policy within Doyle’s office, we decided to contact Governor Doyle himself. A phone message was left with his secretary and he hasn’t returned our call to date. Is this the type of staff or Governor that Wisconsin voted for? Whether Shigeko is a prisoner of the system or not, these people have all aided in keeping her locked up. One thing is certain; there is no known system or state employee in Wisconsin willing to help Shigeko get an independent medical exam, which is a direct example of Governor Jim Doyle supporting elder abuse.
If you have any information regarding Jim Doyle, Trempealeau County HCC or anyone involved, please contact the US Observer at 541-474-7885.