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01/14/94 DIANE WINTERS v. DIANE WINTERS

January 14, 1994

IN RE DIANE WINTERS, ALLEGED TO BE A PERSON SUBJECT TO INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION, (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
DIANE WINTERS, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 92-MH-313. Honorable Michael R. Morrison, Judge, Presiding.

Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied April 6, 1994.

Quetsch, Geiger, Woodward

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Quetsch

JUSTICE QUETSCH delivered the opinion of the court:

Respondent, Diane Winters, was found to be a person subject to involuntary admission and was ordered to be hospitalized with the Department of Mental Health. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 91 1/2, pars. 3-700, 3-811, 3-812 (now 405 ILCS 5/3-700, 3-811, 3-812 (West 1992))). Respondent raises two issues for review: (1) whether the trial court's order for involuntary admission must be reversed because the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that respondent was unable to provide for her basic physical needs so as to guard herself from serious harm; and (2) whether the trial court ordered the least restrictive treatment alternative.

On June 15, 1992, respondent voluntarily admitted herself to the H. Douglas Singer Mental Health Center (Singer). On July 23, respondent requested that she be released from Singer, and the State responded with a petition for involuntary admission. At the hearing on the petition, on August 3, John LaRue, a registered nurse, testified that respondent was on his unit at Singer. According to LaRue, respondent was "confused" and "delusional." She insisted that she was pregnant, even after receiving negative pregnancy test results, and she refused medication. Respondent also was hostile when prevented from leaving the unit. On one occasion, respondent attempted to hit LaRue, but he blocked the blow. About two weeks before the hearing, respondent began saying that she was diabetic and she demanded insulin injections, although this behavior had subsided a few days before the hearing.

Daniel Figiel, a clinical social worker, testified that he examined respondent on July 31 and again on the day of the hearing. During the first interview, respondent paced the room, and she had severe hand tremors. Respondent told Figiel that she "had racing thoughts real bad," that "she slept too much but then said she didn't sleep at all," and "she was exhausted from thinking too much." She also told him that "Hail Mary has been with her" and "a lot of women" had been in her thoughts. Respondent then said her mouth was dry and she did not want to answer any more questions. During the interview on the day of the hearing, respondent said "she was on camera with eyes at Singer"; she "said she was being the Hail Mary," and her "brains were being picked at by the staff at Singer." Respondent told Figiel that she was not ready to leave Singer because she had no place to live. Respondent did not know the day or date, but she knew she was in Singer. Figiel diagnosed respondent as suffering from schizophrenia, paranoid type, with marked delusions and confusion. Figiel did not examine respondent's medical charts.

Figiel opined that respondent was mentally ill and that she was reasonably expected to inflict serious physical harm on another in the near future. Figiel based this opinion on respondent's physical aggression when she attempted to leave the unit. Figiel further opined that respondent was unable to provide for her basic needs so as to guard herself from serious harm because of her mental illness. This opinion was based on respondent having no place to stay. Figiel also stated:

"She is not able to care for herself, I don't believe, based on her illness, that she would have a great difficulty in taking care of her eating habits or eating. I don't think she would be able to sleep properly. She would get very confused and would not be able to function on a daily basis."

Respondent objected to this opinion as not having a sufficient basis. The court reserved ruling on the objection, subject to cross-examination.

On cross-examination, Figiel stated that he interviewed respondent on July 31 for 10 to 15 minutes and for 10 minutes before the hearing. During the interviews respondent was not threatening, she made no statements about eating, she was dressed appropriately, and her hygiene appeared adequate. Figiel had no evidence that respondent was not eating or sleeping properly.

Respondent renewed her motion to strike Figiel's testimony, which the court denied. Respondent presented no evidence. Several times during the hearing, respondent expressed that she was thirsty, and she was permitted to get a drink of water.

The court found that respondent was not likely to inflict serious harm on another. However, the court determined that respondent was unable to provide for her basic physical needs and was likely to cause serious harm to herself. The court noted respondent's belief that she was pregnant and diabetic. The court expressed concern that if respondent injected herself with insulin, she would cause serious harm to herself. Based on LaRue's testimony that the medical records did not indicate that respondent was diabetic, the court found that respondent's belief that she had diabetes resulted from her mental illness. The court further stated that the evidence was sufficient for an expert to conclude that respondent's delusions made it impracticable for her to determine what she should eat and what she should take for medication. The court conceded that there was no evidence about respondent not eating, but there was evidence she had no plans for living arrangements. Based on the Dispositional evaluation, the court found that the least restrictive alternative was hospitalization. Respondent timely appealed.

Respondent first contends that the order of involuntary commitment must be reversed for lack of clear and convincing evidence that she was unable to provide for her basic physical ...


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