The family of Irvo Otieno, a foreign national who died while in a mental health facility in Virginia, has settled a lawsuit against the medical center. According to reports, Otieno had been living in the United States legally as part of a church program but was later detained for allegedly becoming “belligerent and aggressive” when he was taken to the D.C. jail. Instead of being released, he was sent to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, where he was placed in an isolation cell for alleged “security reasons.”
Otieno was then transferred to the medical facility’s psychiatric ward. He was discovered dead in his bed four days later. His family then filed suit against the facility claiming that negligence and malpractice on the part of the staff lead to his death.
In response, the VA hospital released a statement, saying that they had “taken appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of all of its patients.” The statement added that “at this time, we cannot comment further due to the pending litigation.”
The lawsuit recently settled by the family of Otieno claims that the medical facility did not provide adequate mental health treatment or medical care leading to his death. The terms of the settlement have not been made public, but the family is said to be “satisfied” with the outcome.
The death of Irvo Otieno is yet another sad reminder of the importance of providing adequate mental health care to all patients. The failure to provide proper care is a tragedy not just for Otieno’s loved ones, but for all those who seek help for their mental health. It is critical that we learn from past mistakes to ensure that no other person suffers such a tragedy in the future.