The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 30, 2014

Fixing the Security Hospital mess

The problem is with management, not the staff

The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter is an out-of-control facility and a time bomb waiting to go off again.

The Department of Human Services and the St Peter facility have botched the hiring of David Proffitt; released the wrong client; released another one they weren’t supposed to, who tried to kill his mother; and now of course have been deemed responsible for the alleged murder of Michael Douglas by another client. This latest tragic event was not the fault of the employees, but of management. This is where the house cleaning should begin. I note here that some responsibility for this lies on mental health organizations such as National Alliance on Mental Illness. Here is my attempt to convince you of the same.

For the past two years I have been involved in trying to get to the bottom of the problems of the St. Peter facility, in specific, the mental health facility and the now infamous Unit 800. I have done this by interviews of clinical professionals who have left this organization and by interviews of current staff and security counselors. I have also requested, received and read through volumes of information from OSHA forensic logs, incident command system reports, and reports of aggression from both the Security Hospital and from DHS. I have also read the entire Investigation of the death of Michael Douglas and spoken with the investigator personally.

My conclusion is this.

Take special note of this description straight from the investigator’s report. “The Forensic Services Overview described patients on Unit 800 as persons who displayed significant aggressive or unsafe behaviors, significant psychiatric symptoms that lead to unsafe behavior, or who were at high risk for unsafe behavior and were in need of acute intervention.”

Now get this. This report and both DHS and facility personnel have faulted the security counselors for not going in to confront these people. This makes no sense. I myself, having spent 36 years in law enforcement with countless hours in defensive tactics, would not have gone in there without defensive equipment. DHS and management have hamstrung the counselors by not letting them carry either pepper spray or handcuffs or ties. Once more, they don’t have a full-time trained response team as some units do. They actually expect the counselors to go in naked of any defensive tools or restraints. NAMI and DHS, I feel, are living in La La land when they say “We must move forward” and not traumatize our patients further. They treat and label these patients as “vulnerable adult” status, when some of them are cold, calculating individuals who plan and talk about assaulting people, as verified by this report and conversations with counselors.

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