As if losing her son in a murder-suicide wasn’t excruciating enough, a Vermont mother said she was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward the day after. Now, she’s getting billed for the treatment she never wanted in the first place.
Christina Schumacher of Essex, Vt., told the Burlington Free Press she isn’t sick.
“I am not ill; I am simply a mother who is grieving the tragic loss of her young son,” Schumacher told newspaper. “No mother should ever have to experience this loss.”
Schumacher’s 14-year-old son Gunnar was found dead in his father’s apartment on Dec. 18. Court documents released this month show he suffered “apparent strangulation,” the Free Press reported, but his official cause of death has not yet been released. Gunnar’s father, 49-year-old Ludwig Schumacher Jr., was found hanged in the same apartment.
On Friday after the murder-suicide, the Free Press reported, the 48-year-old mother was brought to a secure psychiatric ward at Fletcher Allen Health Care. Her five-week-and-counting stay came at the recommendation of a doctor, who feared she could be a “danger to herself and others,” not through judicial review.
It’s not only that she was hospitalized against her will, but how she was taken involuntarily that’s drawing some criticism in a case that is now being reviewed by a judge. Here’s more from the Free Press:
Schumacher, who had been seeing a psychiatrist for a couple of weeks, arrived for a previously scheduled appointment Dec. 19, the day after the bodies of her estranged husband and her son were found.
It was before her appointment at the University Health Center that her doctor had University of Vermont police on standby to take her into custody if she did not admit herself.
Schumacher declined, so she was detained by police. A UVM police report showed that the officers had to wait for several hours because mental-health staff lacked the proper paperwork to have her legally transported to Fletcher Allen.
The Free Press reported that the hospital has banned its reporters from visiting Christina Schumacher but they can call her. The mother reached out to the newspaper with her ordeal late last month asking them to investigate.
As for the medical institution billing her for treatment that was not voluntarily sought, state Rep. Anne Donahue told the newspaper she takes issue with such cases.
“If they have insurance, they bill the insurance company,” Donahue told the Free Press. “All you have to do is be a clinically approved admission. The fact that it is involuntary doesn’t change that.”
Hospital spokesman Mike Noble told the newspaper, while not commenting directly about Christina Schumacher’s case, that the cost of visits is usually picked up by patient’s insurance, Medicaid or the state’s Department of Mental Health.
WCAX-TV reported in early January that police have a suicide note from Ludwig Schumacher, which could reveal his motives, but are not releasing it. The news station learned through an affidavit that the teen’s mother had called police the day before he was found, saying she hadn’t heard from him recently and feared for his safety.
The Free Press previously reported that police records don’t indicate any formal domestic abuse complaints from the Schumachers during their 19 years of marriage. The couple separated last summer and had filed for divorce. The newspaper reported that Christina Schumacher had said her husband was abusive and that she filed for a restraining order in July.
WCAX also reported that Ludwig Schumacher had called the school to excuse his son from class on Dec. 19 “due to family situations.”
(H/T: USA Today)