Grieving Vermont Mother Christina Schumacher Held Against Will in Mental Facility, Billed for Her Stay

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Christina Schumacher lived through any parent’s worst nightmare. A week before Christmas, her estranged husband killed their teenage son and then himself. The next day, Schumacher went to her regular psychiatric appointment, where her doctor had police on-hand to detain her if she did not willingly commit herself to a psychiatric facility.

According to reporting done by Mike Donoghue of the Burlington Free Press, the doctor believed she was going to hurt herself before he had even seen her and asked police to be in the office. Schumacher was taken in for what was originally supposed to be a 72-hour stay, but still remains in the facility.

While Schumacher has been in the secure ward, her teenage daughter has been left to navigate this crisis alone.

Adding insult to injury, some say, is that the facility incarcerating Schumacher—Fletcher Allen Health Care—is billing her for the stay. State Rep. Anne Donahue is “a longtime advocate for improving treatment in Vermont for the mentally ill,” and has spoken out against the way involuntary mental health stays are currently billed.

A spokesman for Fletcher Allen declined to discuss specifics, but said in some cases Medicaid will pick up the cost. However Schumacher has said that Fletcher Allen has been billing her insurance.

There has been some resistance on the part of the court to make the proceedings public, citing the difficulty of “balancing the competing interests” of the public and a person’s right to privacy concerning health matters. However, since it was Schumacher who reached out to the Free Press, it is unlikely that the latter is of any concern.