Could Alaska Psychiatric Institute Have Prevented an Attack on a 7-Year-Old? (KTVA.com Exclusive)
After pleas for psychiatric help, why wasn't Byron Syvinski institutionalized?
ANCHORAGE - On June 4, 2011, after a series of frantic 911 phone calls, Byron Syvinski was admitted into the Providence Psychiatric Emergency Department – and released less than 24 hours later. Shortly after, on the 5th, the then-32-year-old man brutally beat a then-7-year-old girl and attempted to steal her bicycle.
In three hours Syvinski called 911 nine times, with the length of the calls ranging from two minutes to over twenty. In each phone call his breathing became harder, his words more frustrated and his thoughts more disoriented.
He talked about paranoia, heart problems, family issues and suicide. “I’m a danger to myself right now,” Syvinski told a dispatcher. “Okay, well, we can help you with that,” she replied.
“I just [expletive]… I’m about to [expletive] jump over this [expletive] thing… jump over this [expletive] railing - hello?” The dispatcher stayed on the line and attempted to calm him.
Before cops arrived to take him into custody, dispatchers asked if he had weapons; he told them yes – himself.
The following day, that weapon almost took the life of young Am-Marie Martin.
It took two men to make Syvinski stop hitting Martin, now eight, in the face.
According to charging documents, police officials believe he was under the influence of the designer drug known as “bath salts.” Police officers described his behavior as “extremely combative” and “dangerous.”
Syvinski has a history of criminal behavior – family violence, dangerous drugs, carrying a concealed weapon, assault and much more.
This event raised several questions about psychiatric care in the community, and why Syvinski wasn’t admitted to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) after being treated at Providence.
Immediately after the assault, Providence Hospital refused to make a statement, but eventually published an emailed press release.
“These patients are provided a thorough assessment for both medical and psychiatric conditions. Based on this evaluation, they are treated and referred as appropriate.”
But even now, Providence remains tight lipped about the situation.
Jury selection for Syvinski’s trial for the assault on Am-Marie is scheduled for Wednesday, July 18.
API is located right next door to Providence Hospital. The lawn is green, the flowers are blooming and the parking lot is full. Some say this is where Byron Syvinski should have been sent – and the following describes what he might have been provided.
There is a private emergency driveway on the right side of the building, somewhat hidden, to ensure the privacy of its possible future patients.
Located in a secure corridor of API is an attempted replica of Main Street USA – a small town feel added to a state of the art facility, where officials are trying to break the social stereotypes for institutions of its nature.
There are wooded park benches outdoors, flowery paintings on white walls and three secure hallways indoors, where patients of all ages are treated. Ninety-nine percent of the patients are there involuntarily, according to API Chief Executive Officer Ron Adler.