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Walker’s Policies Further Violated Patients

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on August 28, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

If  you thought that Sunday’s articles regarding the poor way the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex was run was outrageous, it pales in comparison to the second series of articles which appeared in Monday morning’s paper.

In the main article, it points out that the story from yesterday is nowhere near being a rare occurrence, unfortunately (emphasis ours):

The latest Atkins case is far from the only one that has put patients in peril at the complex. The county Behavioral Health Division listed 67 reported or observed “sexual incidents” at the complex over four years in a February memo obtained by the newspaper.

Another male patient at the complex reported he’d been raped by his roommate one night last September, Sheriff’s Department records show. In a violation of hospital policy, the man was not given a physical exam nor offered treatment at the sexual asault treatment center, according to federal records.

Instead, he was interviewed by a psychiatrist at the complex the next morning, who asked whether he might have dreamed the episode. The psychiatrist, who wasn’t named in the report, dismissed the complaint as “a delusional episode and /or a dream.”

That man was later discharged to a group home. But hospital staff did not inform group home operators about his own history of sexual touching, anger and threats of violence, according to records.

Sheriff’s office records show patient sexual assault complaints often center on instances in which staff lost track of patients’ whereabouts – as they did repeatedly with Atkins.


The complex has had at least five suicides amid multiple attempts, as well as hundreds of patient assaults and runaways, the newspaper found. Nurses have filed dozens of complaints each month over unsafe working conditions, with short staffing usually the key concern.

Nearly two-thirds of 98 nurses who responded to a nurses union survey in May said their units at the complex were unsafe.

Patients, who often have no other option, say they are afraid to be sent there.

In the same article, they also offer the details of the case regarding Cindy Anczak, the woman who was allowed to starve to death in 2006.

It was the secondary article, which like yesterday, was the one that got to the heart of the problems being faced.

Like a recipe for disaster, the article listed the many failings that have occurred over the recent years, including the following:

  • Allowing the facility’s accreditation to lapse,
  • The high level of turn overs of the higher ups,
  • The unacceptably high level of staff turnover,
  • Insufficient funding and
  • An outdated and poorly maintained building.

Things are so bad off at the mental health complex that now even the Editorial Board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is finally calling for heads to roll and people to get fired, starting with John Chianelli, Director of BHD.

We concur, since this is something we called for three months ago.

They also said that there should be a secure ward and that the dangerous patients should be isolated.  I would remind them that there were two such wards which Walker abolished.  Furthermore, it was Walker that rejected a proposal for a third ward.

As we have said before, Scott Walker must start taking responsibility for the consequences of his negligent policies, and work actively to change his administrative style, before more people get hurt or killed.


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