The stress of being involuntarily removed from her home led to a heart condition for 74 year-old Rose, sending her to a nearby hospital. Hospital staff wanted to operate, but Rose told them her primary care doctor had previously advised her that surgery could further jeopardize her health.
The hospital filed a petition for a permanent guardian to be able to make a decision about the surgery, accompanied by a psychiatrist’s medical certificate stating that Rose suffered from mental illness. The certificate did not contain any diagnosis or documentation of mental illness. Rose was sent to a nursing home, even though she expressed a strong desire to return home. She remained in the nursing home against her will and without access to her personal belongings for three months.
With the help of her legal aid attorney, things turned around. Rose filed an objection to the guardianship petition and a motion for an independent competency evaluation. A psychiatrist evaluated Rose and found her to be competent. Her primary care doctor of twelve years also supplied a letter stating that she was quite capable of making informed medical decisions.
On the basis of this evidence, the hospital dismissed the underlying guardianship petition. Rose was able to live independently with the help of home care services.