Public Mediation

A.W. vs. Kerry Savola-Levin

A. W. vs. Kerry Savola-Levin
111 Smith Ranch Road, San Rafael, California, 94903-1939, United States
    • Status: In Negotiation
      This claim has posted for public comment and negotiation. It will remain posted until resolved to the claimant's satisfaction. Suggest a resolution to help these parties reach a settlement.
      (seeking public comment)
    • Claimant Seeks: 2 non-monetary items.
    • Claim #: 7575850
    • Amount Involved: 250,000.00
    • Filed On: May 12, 2021
    • Posted On: Dec 10, 2022
    • Complaint(s):
      • Rude or Unprofessional Behavior
      • Unfair Cancellation or Denial of Insurance Coverage
      • Failure to Answer Questions Regarding Patient's or Relative’s Health
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Statement of Claim
Claimant says:
"This is a complaint against my abuser, Kerry Jean Savola-Levin (LCSW License # 20307). Kerry’s cruel actions resulted in me being wrongly involuntarily hospitalized and irreparably, ruthlessly, and debilitatingly traumatized. Kerry destroyed my life, and I feel that it is essential to report her infractions so that others are spared from the same damages. A list of the damages caused by this hospitalization, and by Kerry’s abuse, has been attached to this complaint. Kerry’s acts of professional misconduct include the following:
At no point did Kerry identify or document a “serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk” to self, as specified in the NASW ethical standards, that should have resulted in such a substantial limit of my right to contribute to my own treatment plan. In fact, Kerry specified that I had no imminent risk factors in her assessment, then went on to contradict herself by saying that I was an imminent danger to myself. Kerry has an ethical obligation to use the power to involuntarily hospitalize as a “last resort” only (see MHA position statement), and an ethicist in the Journal of the American Medical Association goes even further to state that individuals with full autonomy should not be hospitalized for ideation related to feelings of deliberative suicide (see JAMA article by C. George, MD). When Kerry could not get me to admit to this standard of risk during my assessment, she deliberately falsified information in her report, inserted uncorroborated hearsay from Lindsey Hockridge (my former therapist), and omitted information from the initial encounter with my emergency physician. Kerry also deliberately omitted important context from her statements to make me sound more impulsive; for example, she reported that I intended to write a will and wanted to donate my organs. During a global pandemic, the idea that securing an appointment with an estate attorney, reviewing financial assets, and finalizing documents could be done in a day, much less a week, is laughable. Additionally, I take issue with the idea that as a speech-language pathologist who works in acute care, I do not understand the general procedures and criteria for organ donation; I am far more directly involved in the medical aspects of palliative care than a social worker, so my expertise deserves the benefit of the doubt, at the bare minimum, from someone like Kerry. Perhaps if she had gone through more of my medical record, she would have seen that I frequently report that though I sometimes have wished I were dead, I would feel guilty because then I would not be able to be an organ donor, as I had always hoped to be. Kerry’s incompetence is outrageous and unacceptable.
Continuing on the topic of incompetence, on online platforms, Kerry lists clearly that her specialties include “Pregnancy, Prenatal, Postpartum; Anxiety; [and] Relationship Issues.” Kerry also appears to do a significant amount of work in private practice offering outpatient support groups for new mothers. As such, Kerry is in no way equipped or current enough in her training or education to evaluate a patient with my diagnoses or treatment history, and this is clear in her insufficient, incoherent clinical writing. As an acute care clinician myself, I am offended that my civil rights could be taken away by someone with so little dedication and consistent experience in this area of mental healthcare. You will notice, by contrast to Kerry’s documentation, that Dr. Sax’s initial report asks about my initial plans for how I wanted to spend my evening, and nurses provided dynamic, objective reporting on my behavioral and emotional states. People who understand the stress of the ED and know what they are doing know the right questions to ask and how to monitor emotional regulation. Dr. Sax was looking to see if I had plans for activities that would be relaxing and distracting to someone that was experiencing severe depression and PTSD, which I very clearly expressed to her in my encounter with her. I also discussed that I would be speaking with family that evening, meaning I would have social interaction with people I care about. Kerry appears to have no knowledge of true evidence-based safety planning and what it entails, as she fixates on the concept of creating what is essentially a no-suicide contract. Contracting for safety lacks an evidence base, particularly for use in the emergency room; I should not be subjected to junk sciene. Kerry never asked what I was doing prior to the police coming (talking to my dad and trauma therapist, helping contractors do plumbing work at my house, an LA Times crossword puzzle from the past Sunday). I do not believe that she was interested, as I think she was so committed to a narrative of me scheming to plan my own death that she could not conceive of the idea that I may have the skills to personally de-escalate my own emotional distress. Having to be at the mercy of someone with this many biases, shortcomings, and antiquated ideas of how to assess and treat mental illness was horrifying and stressful in what was already a very traumatizing environment, and Kerry should have never been left to make an assessment of my mental state on her own.
Kerry practices in Marin County, CA, which is where I grew up and where I was initially hospitalized. I know my community well, and I feel plenty qualified to state that because Kerry specializes in treating new mothers, her client demographics are quite homogeneous and narrow relative to other parts of the state, and they generally do not include my identities. Kerry is thus prone to bias when assessing someone like me due to her practice, particularly because she sees a population that overwhelmingly identifies as married or partnered, likely has a larger support system, and is more stable and settled in life. I, a 28-year-old who is just doing what I can to survive mental illness, do not deserve to be evaluated by someone who helps women 5 to 10 years older than me who are partnered, statistically much wealthier and living sometimes on two incomes, overwhelmingly privileged, and often homeowners in one of the most affluent counties in the country. Kerry’s understanding of “normal” for a Marin woman simply would not include me unless I lied about who I was. This is evident in her report and her judgmental, ableist statements. Additionally, my therapist Lindsey Hockridge, who spoke with Kerry, reported to the police that I should not be believed based on what I report because I am well educated and will know the right things to say to be deceptive. I believe that Kerry took that to heart, despite that being a repulsive, completely nonsensical act of discrimination based on a part of my identity beyond my conscious control, and consequently, Kerry decided that I was an impulsive liar without evidence. It did not matter to her that I had no legal issues, paid taxes, maintained three licenses and a national certification to be a speech-language pathologist, and was actively pursuing treatment until this point. Kerry was clearly convinced that I was incapable of maintaining the same standards of morality and integrity as a typical person, simply because I was mentally ill, and she refused to ask me about it.
Kerry also noted in my medical record that it was unknown whether I had access to firearms. This is something she knew, or should have known, was absolutely false. I annotated this in the records, but I want to highlight how insensitive this is given the socio-political profile of my community. Unless Kerry had been given any information from law enforcement to suggest I had a firearm, or any other lethal weapon (police literally walked around my house prior to taking me to the hospital, and I am sure they checked to see if I had any guns registered in my name prior to approaching me), she had absolutely no right to present my access to weapons as an unpredictable mystery. For one thing, Kerry repeatedly demonstrates less than minimal awareness of the fact that biased reporting of mentally ill patients negatively impacts their future care and can make them sound dangerous for no reason. This is completely unacceptable to me as a healthcare provider; I have been kicked, yelled at, called names, had patients refuse treatment, had chairs thrown at me, and plenty more, and I would never dream of describing patients the way that Kerry does because I know it could unnecessarily put them in restraints at a future hospital visit. Second, Marin is ideologically quite liberal; I was never raised around firearms, and most people I know would never enter a home where they were accessible and/or visible. Growing up in Marin, most kids learn that people who own guns and use them often are in “stand your ground” states, or in places where young children find them in nightstands and accidentally shoot themselves or another family member while playing with it. It sounds crude, but there is a lot of “othering” when it comes to gun culture– they are not “us.” Gun owners may be paranoid or prejudiced; they value their own “protection” over others’ safety and comfort. I grew up learning that that’s simply not how we do things in Marin—that we don’t have the right to cause unease in public in that way. This mentality is not exclusive to Marin, but it was very much instilled in my peers and me during my upbringing, and I will not, under any circumstances, allow Kerry to claim ignorance of how culturally offensive it would be to even insinuate that I could possess a gun or other lethal weapon, particularly without legal authorization. I am licensed and report to a board in the Department of Consumer Affairs, and I abide by the law to ensure that I am able to enjoy the privileges that my professional license allows me. I am no different than Kerry in that way, even if she thinks I am too “crazy” to be trusted to follow the law while very depressed. Kerry mistreated me because of what she could not understand, and she did not understand because she did not ask, review my chart, or assume that I was doing my best to cope.
Though my therapist, Lindsey, who Kerry references in her report, deliberately omits this, Kerry should have searched for and known that I made countless repeated attempts to access higher levels of care for myself immediately prior to being wrongfully detained. In fact, I called Kaiser, Kerry’s employer and my insurance provider, to plead for residential treatment, which they denied and said was medically unnecessary weeks earlier. A psychologist denied residential care again days later when I begged to be re-evaluated. I believe that Kerry should be investigated to determine if she recommended the hold as a favor to Kaiser as an act of retaliation, because I repeatedly asked for treatment. Alternatively, Kerry may have been incentivized to take away my rights because Kaiser contracts with outside treatment facilities, who then receive money for each Kaiser patient who is detained. She could have also detained me to fulfill a productivity requirement. Regardless of the motive, I do not think it was a simple coincidence that I called, emailed, and pleaded over and over to get inpatient care, and that neither Kerry nor the MFT that re-evaluated me the next day make no mention of these attempts to access this care. I do not think it was a coincidence that none of this was mentioned by Lindsey, or perhaps Lindsey did mention it but Kerry did not include it in her report, and absolutely no mention is made of alternative placements that were considered before automatically considering involuntary hospitalization in seclusion for 24 hours. I do not think it was a coincidence that I was ignored and not believed for 3 whole days, detained for no reason as though I was denying and avoiding treatment for months, only for Kaiser to reject the recommendations of the psychiatric hospital where I was transferred after being in the Emergency Department. In fact, Kerry intentionally hospitalized me with the knowledge that it would disrupt my existing treatment, and that all I would be offered after discharge was a virtual version of an intensive outpatient program that was proven ineffective for me after I attended it for two days in January. In sum, Kerry knew that by hospitalizing me, she would be effectively disrupting my existing care and then, upon discharge, ensuring that my only option was to enter a lower level of care. She knew that I would have no option for individual treatment, no regular medication management with a psychiatrist, and no eating disorder treatment. And if she claims that she did not know any of this, then she had absolutely no business placing the involuntary hold in the first place. Kerry deliberately compromised my ability to make my own decisions regarding my care, not only while hospitalized, but after discharge as well. I believe that there is a very real possibility that this was all intended on the part of Kaiser, and that Kerry’s role in my systematic withdrawal of care should be thoroughly investigated.
Kerry asked numerous assessment questions in a manner that was insensitive given my diagnoses, and made infantilizing and condescending remarks in her report in order to distort my words. Kerry’s clinical writing was inaccurate and deliberately vague so as to characterize me as someone who was more volatile, violent, unpredictable, impulsive, immature, unfamiliar with treatment, unaware/in denial of her diagnoses, antisocial, untruthful, and manipulative than I really am, and was able to get away with it by exploiting my disabilities. I list examples of this extensively in my annotations of my medical record. It is appalling that for someone who works in a field that serves people with disabilities, Kerry would go this many years without understanding that absolutely no one is able to definitively state what someone is unable to do when assessing the mind, and to do so the way that Kerry did reveals overt arrogance. I am a speech-language pathologist and a certified expert in developmental disabilities; there is absolutely nothing about me that is or has ever been “unable” to make a safety plan or name individuals in a support system. I can speak, produce language in full sentences, and think on my own. What baout me is "unable?" What I can say, to the contrary, is that the questions Kerry asked showed just how little humility and self-awareness she actually has. Kerry asked me if I had anyone to stay with on the night of May 20. I told her no—not because I lacked the verbal, cognitive, or social-emotional capacity to provide her with a name, but because coronavirus restrictions were still very much intact and enforced in the Bay Area at that time, and while I knew a handful of people that I could call, as a healthcare provider, I knew that my exposure risk after being in an ED and police car that day could put others at risk. Nothing about my judgment was “poor,” as Kerry summarized; hers was. I do not know if she was truly intending on being demeaning or was simply inadequately skilled for her job, but the thought of her continuing to work in an ED terrifies me.
NASW’s Code of Ethics states that “social workers should cooperate with social work colleagues and with colleagues of other professions when such cooperation serves the well-being of clients.” Her physician colleague, who was the last clinician to assess my psychiatric fitness before her, asked about my evening plans and made an assessment that my depression was under-treated. I had been a broken record about this to each of my providers for months, not the other way around, and the ER physician also mentioned the fact that I had recently been denied residential treatment. Had Kerry actually read her note or spoken with her beforehand, Kerry could have looked into the denial for residential treatment, perhaps helped advocate on my behalf for the treatment I actually wanted, and provided care that was in the interest in my well-being. Instead, she trusted Lindsey, a therapist she did not know (and if she did, that conflict of interest should have been disclosed) over the phone, who insisted that her own client was inevitably going to lie, and trusted this person over her own colleague, who happened to be the only person to be face-to-face with me the entire day, out of the three of them. Kerry never stopped to consider whether I felt comfortable and safe in my relationship with my therapist at the time of my abuse. She did not ask how I felt about my therapist, and did not care.
Kerry, individually and in concert with my therapist Lindsey, produced so many hurtful and dishonest statements to discredit my mental abilities and integrity that I do not know how I will ever be able to access healthcare ever again. Kerry’s dishonesty resulted in deep, traumatic wounds and constant fear that I will not be believed in a crisis. I understand that to an outside observer, some of my complaints might not seem as pressing or as serious, or some might seem subjective. But because Kerry is a social worker, it is her job, whether she wants to or not, to promote social justice while engaged in her work. The NASW and other such organizations are very clear about this, especially when it comes to cultural competence and celebrating disability rights. Kerry has very concerning ableist thoughts, biases, and behaviors; I do not know if there was something about me personally that may have irritated Kerry more than other patients, or perhaps Lindsey Hockridge gave her a really unfavorable impression of my character. For all I know, the products of this complaint may have been the result of a bad day. The problem, however, is that Kerry has the potential to oppress an entire community of very vulnerable individuals if this incident was not a personal attack. The principles of social justice dictate that Kerry does not get to decide what is ableist and what is not– I am the disabled person, and I was the witness to the behavior, so I am the one to identify what caused harm. With so little awareness into the harm she could cause, and is causing, Kerry is an imminent danger to others; consequently, she has absolutely no business serving as a 5150 clinician.
This is absolutely not the kind of clinician that mentally ill Californians should have to continue to fear when they are vulnerable and in need of compassionate, competent care.
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What Claimant Wants Hide
What By When How Much
1. Apology: Written, notarized apology May 17, 2021 N/A
2. Written, notarized affidavit correcting errors in medical record and rescinding necessity of 5150 May 17, 2021 N/A
1. Damages: General and punitive damages, hospital bills, post-discharge treatment, lost wages May 17, 2021 $250,000.00
Cash total : $250,000.00
Non-cash: 2 items
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Respondent's Counteroffer

There has been no response to this claim from Kerry Savola-Levin. This claim will remain posted until resolved
Offer History
May 12, 2021
Claimant's Terms of Settlement to Kerry Savola-Levin
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