Nov 18, 2010 11:25 AM by Greg Boyce

Audit critical of Pueblo mental hospital

After the death of a the third patient there in less than a year, and the fourth in two years, the state's Department of Human Services said the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo needed scrutiny.

The state hired three industry experts, and their report says the hospital needs a lot of changes.

That news comes as Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut said a grand jury is investigating deaths at the hospital. There have been two suicides, one patient died while being restrained and another died last year from being over medicated.

So what did the report say?

First, there are major organizational problems at the hospital:

  • The oversight structure at the hospital is quote "labyrinth-like" and not well understood
  • Policy changes need the approval of three committees
  • The superintendent, by his own admission, really only paid attention to policy areas "of interest to him"

Patient care was affected:

  • Staff use restraints and on patients too much, instead of proven techniques that are more positive
  • Open areas in the criminal unit aren't being used, leaving patients to stay locked in their rooms
  • The supposed "treatment teams" for patients don't really exist
  • The hospital's "culture of despair" needs to be changed to a "culture of hope"

Staff morale is terrible, the report said. The experts also said the hospital is "critically understaffed."

Hospital executives weren't allowed to talk to us.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, which oversees the hospital, said, "in general we do agree with the findings of the report."

Read the entire report by clicking here



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