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In re Julie M.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

December 20, 2019

In re JULIE M., a Person Found Subject to Involuntary Admission
v.
Julie M., Respondent-Appellant. People of The State of Illinois Petitioner-Appellee,

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, No. 18MH- 17; the Hon. Jason M. Bohm, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: Veronique Baker and Matthew Davison, of Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission, of Hines, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: Julia Rietz, State's Attorney, of Urbana (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and James Ryan Williams, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Turner and Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          KNECHT, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In October 2018, the circuit court found respondent, Julie M., subject to involuntary admission on an inpatient basis. Respondent appeals the order, arguing the court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the State's petition for involuntary admission as untimely filed in violation of sections 3-604 and 3-610 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code (Mental Health Code) (405 ILCS 5/3-604, 3-610 (West 2016)). More specifically, respondent contends the facility in which she received both medical treatment and psychiatric treatment was a "mental health facility" that failed to comply with the admission requirements of the Mental Health Code and, as a result, held and treated her involuntarily for longer than the 24-hour period in which a petition for involuntary admission should have been filed. Respondent argues the admission requirements of the Mental Health Code should have been complied with when her psychiatric treatment began, not when she was medically discharged. Respondent also contends that the circuit court erred when it found, under In re Linda B., 2017 IL 119392, 91 N.E.3d 813, she had the burden of establishing the psychiatric treatment she received was imposed involuntarily. Respondent concedes the issue is moot but argues her appeal falls within the capable-of-repetition-yet-avoiding-review and public-interest exceptions to the mootness doctrine. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On October 5, 2018, a petition for involuntary admission under section 3-601 of the Mental Health Code (405 ILCS 5/3-601 (West 2016)) was filed on behalf of respondent, a patient in the cardiovascular unit of Carle Foundation Hospital (Carle). According to the petition, respondent suffered mental illness and needed immediate hospitalization to prevent harm to herself or others. Among the allegations in the petition is the allegation respondent refused treatment or failed to adhere adequately to prescribed treatment because of the nature of her illness. The petition further indicated respondent, in a short period of time, twice received treatment at Carle following suicide attempts:

"[Respondent] arrived via [emergency medical services] after a suicidal attempt on 9/14/18. She intentionally ingested 2 AAA batteries and 1 button battery. She has expressed suicidal ideation numerous times during this hospitalization. She reported that she went home from inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, became suicidal again, and intentionally swallowed batteries again with the expressed intent of committing suicide. During this hospitalization, she attempted to harm herself with a piece of plastic cup and trauma shears. She tried to grab for the badge with expressed intent of harming herself. She told [a registered nurse] that 'I just NEED to cut.'"

         ¶ 4 A disposition report, authored by Benjamin Gersh, M.D., a consult liaison psychiatrist at Carle, was filed with the circuit court on October 9, 2018. According to the report, respondent was 36 years old and had resided in a supportive living residence in Champaign, Illinois. On August 29, 2018, respondent presented to the emergency room for a "panic attack." While awaiting transportation to an inpatient psychiatric facility, respondent swallowed two batteries from a television remote control. At that point, respondent was admitted to Carle and underwent a procedure to remove the battery that did not pass on its own. The psychiatry department consulted with respondent on August 30, 2018, and recommended inpatient psychiatric treatment. On September 7, 2018, respondent was discharged to "OSF 5-East inpatient psychiatric unit" (OSF). While in OSF, respondent was diagnosed with unspecified bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. She was prescribed multiple medications. Three days after her admission, respondent was discharged from OSF. Respondent denied having suicidal ideations on the date of discharge.

         ¶ 5 According to the report, on September 14, 2018, respondent arrived at Carle's emergency department after having swallowed two AAA batteries and one button battery. She was taken to the operating room for an endoscopy procedure. One battery was found in the esophagus. The next day, an endoscopy was performed but no battery was recovered. On September 20, 2018, respondent underwent a colonoscopy for the removal of the remaining two batteries. Doctors found ulcerated areas, possibly due to battery liquid. Because of these injuries, surgical personnel were consulted. On September 21, 2018, surgery was performed, opening respondent's colon. Three eroded areas and the remaining battery were found.

         ¶ 6 Dr. Gersh stated the psychiatry department consulted with respondent on September 17, 2018, and saw her regularly: "9/19, 9/26, 10/1, 10/2, 10/4, 10/5." Respondent attempted to hurt herself multiple times with anything she could find in her room. Because of these episodes, respondent "required two sitters." Dr. Gersh reported "[b]ecause of her high acuity, interdisciplinary team meetings [were held] and a behavioral plan was initiated. The first one was on 10/4." Dr. Gersh completed the involuntary certificate on October 4, 2018.

         ¶ 7 Dr. Gersh further reported on respondent's lengthy psychiatric history:

"Up until this current Carle admission on 9/14, she had been living at Eden Supportive Living. She does not appear to have this option anymore. She has been diagnosed with Borderline personality Disorder; along with major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder. She has a long[-]standing history of swallowing objects and cutting. ***
I saw her when she was at The Pavilion from 4/13 through 5/21/18. She was there for more than a month and was transferred to McFarland State Psychiatric Facility. During that admission, she swallowed a battery there [and was sent] to the Carle [emergency department], in which an EGD was performed to remove the battery.
***
From 11/2 through 11/5/2017, she was at Trinity Regional Medical Center after putting a pencil into her vagina and bladder. She was sent to an inpatient psychiatric unit. On 11/14/17, she was threatening to overdose on pills or insert objects into her vagina. She was sent to Gateway. On 12/7/2017, she broke off a plastic spoon piece into her vagina-she wanted to cut her insides. *** It looks like she was in McFarland as well in September 2017. In June 2017, she ingested batteries and went to a psych unit as well."

         ¶ 8 The disposition report indicated changes in respondent's psychiatric medications occurred while she was in Carle. When she was discharged from OSF, respondent was on five psychiatric medications. As of the date of the disposition report, respondent had been taking seven.

         ¶ 9 On October 16, 2018, respondent moved to dismiss the petition for involuntary admission. Respondent alleged she was admitted to Carle on September 14, 2018, and treated for the ingestion of batteries and injuries caused by the batteries. Respondent maintained she was medically cleared and fit for transfer to an inpatient psychiatric facility on September 28, 2018, but she remained involuntarily detained by Carle. Because, respondent argues, she was held more than 24 hours without proper documentation, which was not filed until October 4, 2018, she was entitled to release under sections 3-604 and 3-610 of the Mental Health Code.

         ¶ 10 Two days later, the circuit court held a hearing on respondent's motion to dismiss and the State's petition for involuntary admission. Respondent initially called Dr. Gersh to testify. In his role as consult liaison psychiatrist, Dr. Gersh and his team saw patients who "tried to hurt themselves or [were] psychotic or [had] psychiatric presentations of medical complications." Carle did not have a psychiatric ward but treated psychiatric conditions. Dr. Gersh testified his team included Joseph Corbett, a nurse practitioner who was working on his psychiatric certification. After respondent's September 14, 2018, admission to Carle, Corbett did not visit with respondent until September 17, 2018.

         ¶ 11 Dr. Gersh agreed with Corbett's note recommending, on October 2, 2018, that respondent not be allowed to leave the facility against medical advice (AMA). The note meant that if respondent "expressed a desire to leave, *** then we would have been involved." Dr. Gersh explained "usually if somebody's trying to leave [AMA] and it's somebody who's tried to kill themselves, if they're trying to leave, they will call us immediately to come in and do a decisionality examination on said person."

         ¶ 12 Respondent next called Corbett to testify. Corbett was asked if respondent was willing to go to an inpatient psychiatry unit voluntarily. Corbett responded, "[D]uring this entire admission, she has all but-she even noted that, yeah, she's been voluntary this-for this stay, she's been voluntary to go to in-patient psychiatric hospitalization." However, when asked if respondent, on September 26, 2018, told him "she would be willing to go to in-patient-an inpatient psychiatric hospital or unit voluntarily," Corbett replied the record "doesn't say."

         ¶ 13 Corbett testified during an October 1 meeting, respondent reported she and her mother were looking at a homeless shelter in which respondent could reside. Respondent was "[t]ired of being stuck in the hospital." Corbett noted that day respondent stated, "she was just healing and waiting-just waiting for placement; specifically, regarding in-patient psychiatric hospitalization." Corbett noted respondent should not be permitted to leave AMA, calling it standard protocol for patients who have demonstrated a risk to themselves. Corbett met with respondent again on October 2, and she told him to leave her room. ...


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