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“TWEETSTORM” AT 8:00 P.M. ON SUNDAY FOR FAMILY’S REUNIFICATION
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 11, 2014) — While millions of mothers are enjoying Mothers’ Day with their families and particularly their children, Linda Pelletier was not able to visit her daughter, Justina, at the facility where she has been held since January by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Justina was taken into the custody of DCF 16 months ago after doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital, where Justina’s parents took her for treatment for the flu, disagreed with Justina’s diagnosis of mitochondrial disease. In an unexpected move, BCH doctors accused Linda and husband Lou of medical child abuse and called in child protective services.
Justina’s Tufts physician, Dr. Mark Korson, had left Tufts for Boston Children’s Hospital and was the physician she was expected to see upon her admission for the flu in February of last year. Instead, two doctors unfamiliar with Justina or her medical history declared that she suffered from somatoform disorder and had had unnecessary and invasive medical treatments for which they faulted her parents.
A series of court hearings determined that Justina would be better cared-for in the custody of the state of Massachusetts. However, in the fall, Lou broke a court-imposed gag order to inform the media that he believed Justina was dying for lack of proper medical care, after which the story received national and international coverage.
Before her illness, Justina was competitively figure-skating, while today, she is in a wheelchair and reportedly has unexplained swelling and disfigurement on her abdomen.
Although medical care was returned to Tufts Medical Center by DCF earlier this year, Justina’s family says that a heart condition has gone untreated, that her initial visit to Tufts following the court ruling was delayed by several weeks, and that her hairline is receding for an unknown reason. The facility in which Justina has been housed, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network in Framingham, MA, is a treatment center for psychological and emotional rather than medical issues.
Prior to her move to Wayside in January, Justina was kept in a “locked psychiatric unit” at Boston Children’s Hospital, according to a nurse who participated in her care.
On Friday, Linda visited with Justina at a scheduled DCF visit, but she was denied a visit with her for Mothers’ Day. Linda said that she “begged to see her” but was denied by DCF officials. “She cried on Friday, and I said ‘I love you and I’ll talk to you soon,'” Linda said in a video.
The Pelletiers are residents of West Hartford, CT. Next week, Justina will be relocated to a facility in Thompson, CT, which is still more than an hour away from her family. Both Linda and Lou expressed disappointment in a ruling last week which determined that Justina will remain in the custody of DCF and mandates them to participate in the Tufts Medical Center treatment when they currently have no control over medical decisions and wish to regain full custody without restrictions.
A supporter of the reunification of Justina with her parents began a “tweetstorm” which garnered 174,000 tweets last Sunday and was aimed at Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, DCF, Massachusetts AGO (Attorney General Martha Coakley), and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.
On April 15, Liberty Counsel filed a habeas corpus petition on Justina’s behalf with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.