St. Louis media ignores forced shock in its own backyard while Russian woman’s story highlighted

By Juli Lawrence

The court of world opinion was swift and angry when the media broadcast images of a grieving Russian mother being tranquilized after speaking her mind. Her son was one of those killed in the Kursk submarine disaster in August. Media immediately latched onto the story, outraged that a grieving mother would be injected without her consent.

Where were the media two days before, when Kathleen Garrett was being forcibly electroshocked?

Initially, St. Louis media showed a great amount of interest. However, they were quickly stifled after talking to representatives of the corporation that played a large part in Mrs. Garrett’s plight, Tenet Healthcare Corporation. Whether they honestly fell for Tenet’s line of “There is no story here,” or whether they were scared off by the great power that Tenet has in the St. Louis area, I don’t know.

Media sources have said that officials at Tenet said there was no story because Kathleen signed a release statement.

“When I arrived at the hospital the morning of her release,” said Steve Vance, Mrs. Garrett’s son, “they were trying to get her to sign a statement saying she wanted more shock.” This was shortly after they shocked her the morning of her release. Steve is a licensed social worker for the city of St. Louis.

Both Kathleen and Steve have been adamant that she did not want the treatments. Legal documents, however, gave Ricky Mofsen, and Tenet-owned hospitals Southpointe and Des Peres the right to shock her against her will.

How can this be? This is a question that I have been repeatedly asked since the story was brought to the public. Psychiatric rights activists have long understood that people can be forced into psychiatric treatment, including ECT. It seems unbelievable that in the year 2000 someone can be forced into such an invasive procedure, but it happens. And it is not infrequent.

I estimate that between 4,000 and 10,000 persons are given ECT on an involuntary basis – against their will – in America every year. It is only an estimate, and I base the numbers on statistics supplied from the California Department of Mental Health.

Why can’t I be more precise? Because only six states are required by state law to keep any records concerning ECT. We don’t even know how many people in the US have ECT. Any numbers you see (usually 100,000 to 200,000 persons annually in the US) are estimates only. (If this outrages you, as it should, contact your legislators and demand that they look into this lack of record keeping at the federal level. Contact lenses face more regulation than does the practice of ECT!)

So how did this happen to Kathleen?

She has a history of depression and had ECT twice in her life. She says that both times it did not help her, and she suffered severe memory loss. She asked her son Steve to promise that they would never do that to her again, and it’s a promise he made to his beloved mother. Sadly, it was not a promise he could keep, thanks to the actions of Ricky Mofsen, DO. (Notice that Mofsen did his residency at SUNY, home of shock granddad Max Fink!!!)

Ricky told Kathleen that he wanted her to have ECT. She said no, and he said “See you in court.” And he did exactly that, taking her to court to force it.

Her son Steve hired an attorney to fight it, trying desperately to keep his mother’s promise. Steve says that the doctor obviously drugged his mother heavily and she was deliberately unkempt, and brought in on a gurney. “Of course this made her look awful,” Steve says. “I believe it was a manipulative action to make her appear as bad as possible.”

Steve says that in the court hearing (court transcripts have been ordered and will be placed on this website when I receive them…with Mrs. Garrett’s full authority; there are some court documents here) his mother was asked if she wanted the shock treatments and she said no.

Despite her wishes, and the firm wishes of her son (who was given power of attorney in hopes that it would hold some weight in the court action), the judge ruled that Mofsen could shock Mrs. Garrett against her will.

It’s long been known that older women are the number one targets of shock docs. Statistics that are available (California and Ontario are the best stats we have) bear this out. Mrs. Garrett became another statistic that day.

Steve has expressed concerns about payoffs, and originally, I thought this was over the top. Then information began to surface about just whom Steve and his mother were dealing with.

It came to light that the hospital involved was owned by Tenet, the same chain involved in the largest fraud scandal in the history of the United States. Suddenly, the allegations that were floating around began to carry some weight.

Steve says that his mother was getting along reasonably well, but that she does suffer some depression common to older people: loneliness since her husband died, plus the fact that she had undergone extensive treatments for breast cancer: surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy.

“This would leave anyone in a sad state,” says Steve. “But she wasn’t suicidal or even close. It was depression associated with the cancer treatments. She really needed someone to talk to.”

Instead of talk, she got force. Steve says that Mofsen had repeatedly given Kathleen a number to Behavioral Health Response, and said to call anytime when she needed to talk to someone. Mrs. Garrett has stated that she believed it to be a phone line simply to chat with someone when she was lonely.

She called the line one evening, hoping to talk to a friendly person, and instead was asked, “If you were going to kill yourself, how would you do it?”

Kathleen replied, “Well, I guess I’d jump out the window.” Both she and Steve remain adamant that she was not suicidal, but feel that the question was asked in a deceptive manner. It wasn’t “Are you thinking of killing yourself,” but instead “how would you do it?”

Minutes later a fire truck was sent to her home and she was whisked off to Southpointe Hospital, also owned by Tenet.

That led to Mofsen wanting to perform ECT.

An investigation by ect.org has not turned up any affiliation between Tenet and Behavioral Health Response (BHR). It appears to be a state-funded organization, and when questioned, a representative of BHR said that they absolutely do not take any payoffs from Tenet Healthcare Corporation. He added that he could not comment on the case in any detail.

Kathleen was admitted to Southpointe Hospital in St. Louis, where ECT treatments were to begin. Steve says that by this point, he felt beaten and did not know where to turn next. He says the ECT machine broke, and she was then transferred to Des Peres Hospital. She had undergone two treatments, and Steve says he repeatedly asked her if she wanted them. Her answer was always no, please make them stop.

A chance meeting changed everything.

Steve met Paul Spencer, a local activist. Paul called me and I contacted David Oaks of Support Coalition International. (ect.org is one of 88 international sponsoring organizations of SCI) From there, we put together a release and David distributed the release worldwide.
People were asked to contact Michele Meyer, CEO of Des Peres Hospital to express their concern. Many copied their emails to me, and I received hundreds of copied emails.

Within 18 hours, Des Peres Hospital called Steve and said he could pick his mother up the following day. The world was thrilled that their outrage had gained Kathleen’s freedom. However, the medical community was not yet done with Kathleen Garrett.

Paul Spencer voiced concerns over why they were waiting a day to release her. Steve called first thing in the morning and asked. Paul’s fears became reality when a nurse at Des Peres admitted that they had again shocked her that morning.

“I am convinced they used a higher dose,” says Steve. “She is more confused than ever. Can’t even remember how old she is now.”

Only the people involved can answer the question “Why, after agreeing to back down and stop the treatments, did you shock her again?”

However, there is speculation from the public.

“I think it’s pretty obvious,” said an activist who asked not to be identified. “They wanted to blast her one last time to fry her memory as best they could. They know a major lawsuit is headed their way.”

Said another: “It was the ultimate fuck you. How dare they do this to a defenseless woman! They did it out of spite, the sadistic bastards! Tenet is an evil group. They’ve proved it in the past, and they’re up to their same evil!”

The question must be asked: Why did Ricky Mofsen, DO, Tenet-owned Des Peres Hospital and all staff involved give her one last blast, right before her friends and family came to secure her release? Officials of Tenet Healthcare Corporation were originally telling media that it was all moot, that she’d signed a release form.

Steve says that when he arrived to take his mother home, she immediately complained that they were trying to coerce her into signing such a form.

“She could have signed anything after what they did,” Steve says. “It wouldn’t surprise me to find out they did make her sign a statement.”

But activists have repeatedly talked to Kathleen and she is adamant about one thing: NO MORE SHOCK!

Staff from the hospitals became so bothersome that Steve felt he had no choice – he changed his mother’s phone number and told staffers “Leave my mother alone!”

“They know a major lawsuit is headed their way,” said an attorney. “They’re just trying to cover their asses at this point.”

For updates on Kathleen’s condition, visit the guestbook. And leave a message of support for Kathleen! Or speak your mind about Tenet’s role in all of this. Email addies not required.

Steve says that now Tenet is harassing his mother over a bill they originally said was covered by insurance. He says they’ve been rude, “snippy” and he’s outraged that they continue to “be so hateful” to his mother.

Comments (3)

FaeJuly 29th, 2009 at 8:19 am

I know this is an old story, and I just wanted to know if Kathleen ever recovered fully from the ECT Treatments.

ccMay 19th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

No one recovers fully from electroshock treatment. It’s permanently brain damaging.

BrandyJuly 6th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I feel that ECT is completely insane. There is no good that comes from ECT. Kathleen will have brain damage for the rest of her life, she can’t have a second chance at getting all of those lost memories back and that’s sad. No one should have to be forced to endure that kind of cruel and unusual torture. The doctors that say ECT is safe and effective, I wonder how many of them would be willing to have ECT done on themselves.

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