Thursday, August 5, 2010

MO: Girl, 16, Dies During Restraint at an Already Troubled Hospital

BY BLYTHE BERNHARD • > 314-340-8129 AND JEREMY KOHLER • > 314-340-8337 ©2010, St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Posted: Sunday, August 1, 2010 10:00 am |

The charge nurse found Alexis Evette Richie alone in a small room at SSM DePaul Health Center, motionless and sprawled facedown on a bean bag chair.

Minutes earlier, the 16-year-old foster child had tried to hit, scratch and bite staff members in the adolescent psychiatric ward. Two aides grabbed her arms and took her down a hall and into a small room called the "quiet room."

They held her facedown in the chair while a nurse injected a sedative into her hip. Alexis continued to struggle and then went limp.

The nurse and the two aides left without checking her pulse or making sure she was breathing.

Charge nurse Iris Blanks checked on her minutes later and didn't think Alexis looked right. An aide helped Blanks roll the girl over. Alexis wasn't breathing. Her pulse was faint.

It was 12 minutes after she stopped moving before anyone tried to revive Alexis. By then it was too late.

"Why did they leave her like that?" Blanks wailed over the phone to her daughter that night, according to a police report.

The "little girl," she said, "didn't have to die."

The medical examiner agreed, concluding that Alexis had suffocated on the bean bag chair. Her death on Oct. 26 was ruled a homicide.

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