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A Year?! How Bad Is The Mental Health Complex?

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on June 30, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

JSOnline is reporting tonight that the newly formed community advisory committee will need a year to complete a full review of patient safety issues at the mental health complex.  The report also said that the committee would try to get some “interem recommendations” to Scott Walker before he presents his proposed budget in September.

I know that this committee is aiming to do a thorough job of things, but the state needs only a month or two to do an audit of the place.  Furthermore, the committee is made of people that are already familiar, more or less, with BHD and how it operates, if not the minutia of those operations.  I was hoping for more timely answers, since these are people’s lives we are talking about.

Although it’s not really their fault.  Walker’s director of BHD, is very good at misdirecting and stalling, as any honest County Board Supervisor can tell you.  From the article:

The subject came up only briefly during Tuesday’s meeting, when one of the 14 advisory board members asked how the county’s Behavioral Health Division deals with complaints of patient sexual assaults.

John Chianelli, the county’s behavioral health administrator, declined to discuss the issue until later. He said the issue would be reviewed in detail with a subcommittee on patient safety that meets July 14.

Why does it have to be delayed more than two weeks?   Is this a stalling tactic to prolong this until, say September or even November?  Or is that Chianelli just doesn’t know?

Then Chianelli lists the “solutions” that they’ve come up with so far:

Chianelli said steps had been taken to prevent patient assault and improve handling of assault complaints, in the aftermath of the federal inspection. The hospital’s policy banning sex between patients has been communicated to all hospital staff, signs have been posted outlining the policy and patients are advised they may take concerns about sexual harassment or assault to hospital officials or to Disability Rights Wisconsin, a state-designated patient advocacy group, Chianelli said.

The hospital also is installing video surveillance cameras in hallways to better monitor patients, he said.

Regarding the first paragraph, my question would be why wasn’t this done a long time ago?  I would have thought it would be standard operating procedure.  It also raises the question of whether they are only telling the patients, or are they also notifying the guardians?

I also question the cameras as being the cure to the problem.  The cameras, while possibly a good tool to assist, does not replace the physical presence of a staff person in the area.  Nor would the camera be able to actually stop a sexual assault from occurring.  It would only be able to record the event if staff isn’t already at hand to stop, or even better, prevent it from happening at the first place.

Again, this is simply Scott Walker trying to put a bandage on a severed artery, hoping that it holds long enough for him to have a chance in his gubernatorial campaign.

This is also simply not acceptable from an elected leader who swore to preserve the public trust.  These are human lives that he is playing his political games with.

And this has to stop. Now.


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