The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter has had its operational license placed on conditional status for two years after a yearlong investigation uncovered a history of abuse by staff members of at least two mentally ill patients. The hospital was also fined $2,200 the highest amount allowed by state law.
The abuse included isolating the two patients for extended periods of time and wrapping their faces in mesh rags, and forcing one to sleep on a concrete slab for 25 nights. Those incidents occurred in late 2010 and sparked a larger investigation that uncovered evidence that staffers covered up abuses and repeatedly violated isolation and restraint policies.
A doctor still employed at the security hospital is among the staff members aware of the abuse but did nothing about it. In this case the doctor knew that a patient’s mattress had been removed for nearly a month, but despite the fact that he is a mandatory reporter, the doctor did not notify superiors of the suspected maltreatment.
The hospital houses 220 of the state’s most dangerous, mentally ill patients who have been civilly committed by judges. In recent years the institution has been besieged with cash and credibility issues.
Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said that the abuse cases were first investigated at a time when state regulators began to document a chaotic hospital environment where staff lacked proper training and were given little direction on how to care for the state’s most dangerous patients.
The investigation uncovered a pattern of willful violations of state law. Some residents remained in “protective custody” for extended periods of time without deciding an end-date for that treatment or how the resident was supposed to achieve a goal that would lead to his release.
The details emerging from this investigation are truly troubling and show the need for rigorous oversight in all our institutions. If you have a loved one you believe has been mistreated contact the attorneys at Lord & Faris for a free consultation.
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