By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
The Wyoming Health Department has been ordered to disclose details of its investigation into a 2020 hospital eye-gouging incident that resulted in a woman’s death.
According to a subpoena served on the Health Department on Monday, the department must produce all documents, electronically stored information or objects concerning its investigation into the attack on Elaine Tillman at SageWest Health Care in Lander on Thanksgiving Day 2020.
The subpoena, requested by Robert Schuster, the attorney for Tillman’s family, is the latest filing in a lawsuit by the family against the hospital in the woman’s death.
According to police records, Tillman, of Fort Washakie, had been staying in one of the hospital’s urgent care rooms for mental health reasons.
Records said Patrick Lee Rose of Dubois, who was also being held at the hospital, fled his own room, ran into Tillman’s room, jumped onto the woman, gouged out one of her eyes and was attempting to gouge out her other eye when two male nurses restrained him.
The family wrote in its original complaint that Rose, who was being held as an emergency-mental health patient, was not adequately supervised in the hospital.
Tillman died 13 days later in the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. The Fremont County Coroner ruled her death a homicide.
WDH held Rose at the State Hospital in Evanston for a portion of his incarceration. Ultimately, a WDH psychiatrist testified in circuit court in Fremont County that Rose could not be made well enough to be arraigned, but could no longer be incarcerated under Wyoming’s emergency mental health confinement laws because he no longer posed a threat to himself or others.
Rose was released to live at home with his wife in June of 2021.
In its response to the Tillman family’s lawsuit, SageWest has argued that Rose should be brought into the civil trial to accept a percentage of the potential blame for the incident.