Hartgrove Hospital is a corporate-owned psychiatric facility in Chicago. In addition to accepting insured patients, the hospital treats children for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Excerpts from the Chicago Tribune, by Deborah L. Shelton:
In a damning new report, experts from the University of Illinois at Chicago paint a grim portrait of conditions at a Chicago psychiatric hospital, describing an environment of chaos, physical attacks and sexual assaults that regularly puts its young patients in harm's way.
The report, released Tuesday by the state Department of Children and Family Services, found that Hartgrove Hospital, on Chicago's West Side, often was understaffed and over capacity — a dangerous combination that created opportunities for frequent attacks by patients on other patients and hospital staff.
In some cases, hospital employees physically harmed patients.[...]
Experts from UIC's department of psychiatry spent about six months investigating conditions at Hartgrove, a 150-bed private psychiatric hospital that treats adults, teens and children.
The psychiatry department's mental health policy program has been conducting reviews of psychiatric hospitals on behalf of DCFS since 1995 pursuant to a federal court consent decree involving DCFS and the ACLU. The reviewers serve as independent experts.
About 100 violent incidents were documented between December 2010 and mid-June 2011, which included physical attacks, uncontrolled threatening behavior and sexual assaults.
In one case, an "aggressive" male patient, a DCFS ward, who had been discovered receiving oral sex from a female patient a day earlier, was observed "stalking females" on one of the units, according to records.
In another incident, one girl assaulted another, "tearing out her hair and punching her in the face," according to the report. The victim sustained a swollen eye.[...]
Among the chilling details in the UIC report on Hartgrove were descriptions of some hospital employees who appeared to be indifferent or too poorly trained to treat seriously mentally ill youth.
One case involved a 16-year-old girl with severe sickle cell anemia who was forced to cope with intense pain for long periods of time. When she became overwhelmed and had emotional outbursts as a result, staff blamed her for not being able to control herself. A psychiatrist at the facility labeled her behavior as "med-seeking," according to records.
In another case, employees in May reportedly fractured the arm of a 16-year-old boy, who was not a state ward, apparently because they were not properly trained in restraint techniques.[...]
Perhaps most disturbing," the report said, "Hartgrove staff were reportedly told by UHS (parent company) officials that anyone suspected of providing information to the UIC reviewers would be fired."
However the reviewers said they were heartened that a number of employees stepped forward and provided them with much of the data in the report. A section of the report is devoted to comments from employees.
Among the litany of problems detailed were: inadequate training sessions and falsified certification records, psychiatrists spending too little time with patients, extended medication delays and inadequate treatment, and discharge plans that frequently were boilerplate and not individualized to patients' needs.
The report cited "a consistent pattern of unacceptable risks of harm" and "questionable clinical management practices by hospital and corporate officials at all levels of the organization."