The following incident occurred on October 9, 2014 at Presence Covenant Medical Center in Urbana, Illinois, a “Catholic health system providing compassionate, holistic care with a spirit of healing and hope.”

Note: As of 2018, the facility has changed ownership. It is now known as OSF HealthCare.

The Illinois State Police, believing me to be an imminent danger to my own safety, transported me to the Emergency Department for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation.

First, the crisis worker from Community Elements told me “What you did today was unacceptable, and a waste of everyone’s time”. Apparently, my being brought into a medical facility by the State Police for attempting suicide, waiting patiently for five hours to be interviewed, and having time for my mood to stabilize is somehow my own fault.

Then, after belittling and demeaning me, the crisis worker said I was being discharged. So, I picked up my bag of clothes and proceeded to walk out of the ER. No sooner, had a nurse yelled “Stop! Stop! Stop Him!” then three other nurses ran after me, and blocked the exit. Without being physically confrontational, I informed them that I had every right to leave of my own cognizance from their facility, and I asked them to move out of my way. They refused.

At that point two husky security guards, both of whom were at least twice my weight, pinned me against the wall. One pulled my arms back into a lock that was so painful, my shoulder was sore for several days. Before I could even say “Okay, I’ll go back!”, the other one placed me into a choke hold so I couldn’t breathe, moreless speak. Then they shoved me into a nurse that fell face forward into a wheelchair. The guards took that as a sign of aggression, and further strengthened their grip, interjecting “So, are you going to cooperate now?!” to which I was unable to respond. Together, with the pair of nurses, they began dragging me along the floor back toward my room. I felt like I was going to pass out. I was gagging and flinching, still desperately gasping for air. I could barely see the hallway around me, as my vision began to blur and an intense vomiting reflex begin.

During the entire ordeal, the crisis worker who claimed I had wasted everyone’s time, simply stood by and watched my suffering with a grin on his face, because he obviously cared about my welfare. That is why he works at Community Elements.

The two security guards pulled me through the doorway of my room and threw me face down onto the bed like a tattered rag doll, holding me with their fists over my forehead and jaw using every ounce of force they could muster while placing straps over my wrists so I couldn’t move.

As they released the hold around my neck. I struggled to cough, finally gaining enough strength to utter “I can’t br…. I can’t… breathe. PLEASE stop!” Even as I was crying, begging for mercy, the guard simply shrugged, “No way! You can breathe just fine!” Later, I overheard them laughing in the hallway, “We should just let his sorry ass go!” I saw his partner shrug, nodding in agreement, “Yeah, let’s get this jerk out of our hospital!”

I tried to report the incident to the Urbana City Police, and they said there was nothing that could be done, because I’m mentally ill. So, I called three civil rights attorneys within Illinois as well, and they were all reluctant to take my case because I’m mentally ill. They said that an altercation with hospital security staff wasn’t medical malpractice; aggravated assault and battery is a criminal matter. They advised me to contact the authorities and press criminal charges.

I then decided to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Inspector General’s Office. Both cases were closed, and I was informed that my claims were unfounded (this is not the first time that I have reported abuse and neglect to State agencies, and they determined there was no misconduct).

When I followed up with the Urbana City Police two months later, the officer said that he reviewed the security video footage, and determined that the hospital was fully compliant with Illinois State law by holding me for psychiatric evaluation and physically restraining me when I disobeyed their orders. I asked whether a choke hold constitutes excessive force if a patient is non-hostile, but the officer argued that I was never placed into a choke hold because I would have "passed out." He said there was no criminal negligence, and that the case was closed. At that point, he refused to discuss the incident any further. He promptly stood up and shouted at me to “GET OUT!” of the interview room because I was wasting his time.

After tireless hours exploring various legal options, I learned that my only recourse was to contact the hospital’s Risk Management Department. Effectively, my being attacked with brute force by security guards for doing nothing wrong other than trying to leave the hospital after being criticized for wasting everyone’s time by a crisis worker is worthy of no more concern than a Customer Satisfaction postcard.

I spoke in person with their patient relations director, and she informed me that after talking with the security guards, there was no evidence of wrongdoing. Furthermore, she denied (just like the police) that I was even placed into a choke hold, yet she openly admitted to never reviewing the security video footage. In addition, she insisted that the incident couldn’t have occurred as I described it simply because "nothing like that has ever happened before". How can that be the basis of a determination of wrongdoing?

She never offered an apology, despite the traumatic experience. In fact, she even declined to waive my bill, and informed me that I will be paying the balance in full. So that is how Presence Covenant Medical Center responds to healthcare disputes: a) it didn’t happen, b) we’re not sorry, and c) you’ll be paying.

In what other profession beyond healthcare would it be legal for an employee to physically subdue, and torture a law-abiding customer simply because they tried to leave the business without permission and then bill the customer for thousands of dollars afterward for their abduction without so much as a professional apology? Here’s a hint: None.

In American society, a mentally ill patient that poses no threat to any other person whatsoever has less legal rights and protections than someone who is “fully competent”. And when a patient is subject to willful neglect or abuse by hospital staff, it will be dismissed as a necessary evil. What does that say about our values as a nation when dignified healthcare is only guaranteed to patients that are not mentally ill?

My name is Leslie Krause.

This is my story.

Below are three other instances of abuse and neglect that I experienced at this facility.

When I turned 19, I was committed at Presence, for a suicide attempt. When Dr. Yang arrived to interview me I was resting calmly in my bed, not showing any signs of aggression. He asked why I attempted suicide. I told him I had been molested a child and hated life. Instead of offering to contact the authorities to file a report of child abuse, he simply responded that there was nothing that could be done about that. Then he decided I needed to be calmed down. So he came back several minutes to administer an injection of Haldol, a very strong antipsychotic. He never bothered to warn me about potential side effects. As a result, I had a violent seizure attack and developed permanent tardive diskenesia, a debilitating movement disorder.

Several years ago I was a transported to Presence ER for crisis intervention by police. A paramedic asked for my name. When I told him "Leslie", he gave me a confused look and said "Do you have any other name?" I mentioned that I used to be Randall but I got it changed by the court. So he remarked "Okay, Randall". By the time I was admitted to the psych ward, they gave me a wristband with my dead-name on it. Later they brought my medications, all labelled Randall. For group therapy, I was handed a folder with the a sticker printed "Randall". Food trays arrived with a slip that said Randall. All staff including doctors and nurses outright refused to even address me as Leslie because they didn't believe that a male could have a feminine name. On the day of discharge, I asked the head nurse to write a note to my employer explaining my absence. She agreed, and came back with typewritten letter on hospital letterhead that began "To whom it may concern: Randall was receiving inpatient treatment..."

Back in December 2015, I was taken to the ER for a psychiatric hold. Crisis workers arrived and asked why I was there. I explained how I had posted about wanting to end my life on Facebook, but I changed my mind after chatting with a close friend. They said I was not being cooperative, because I wouldn't tell them the truth (even though that was the truth). So they threatened to have me committed. After waiting for well over an hour, I was becoming anxious about the threat of hospitalization. So I started repeating "I have the right to leave. I have the right to leave". Finally two nurses and a doctor arrived at the doorway and told me they were going to have to inject me to "calm me down". So I explained that Illinois law doesn't permit forced medication of mentally ill patients unless they are an imminent risk of physical violence. The nurse then threatened "You can either take this willingly or these security guards will restrain you. It's your choice." Of course I was confused and scared, so I agreed all the while crying because it felt like being raped as they penetrated me in my rear with a needle (an experience I know all too well). After about five minutes, I could feel myself becoming physically weaker, unable to sit up in my bed. I also noticed that it was hard to breath, and I started to have flashbacks to the choke hold incident. Except this time instead a neck lock, it was a chemical noose. I was helpless to say or do anything, just laying there counting each aching breath.

Copyright © 2015-2023, Leslie Krause.