Sources have confirmed that officials from the state regulatory agency have converged on Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in what has been described by one long-term employee as the most extensive investigation/inspection of the facility since its opening ten years ago. The investigation involves all units in the hospital including the behavioral health unit.
Complaints have previously been lodged with both former County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer and Chief Operating Office Patrick Petre over the care of patients in the behavioral health (lock down) unit. Those complaints appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. It is not clear how this investigation/inspection was initiated.
Concerns addressed by employees in the behavioral health unit include misuse of restraints and over-medication of patients. Our sources tell us that patient records were falsified by a nurse manager with the knowledge of the unit manager in an effort to keep several patients in restraints for a period of months. Nursing staff is said to have overheard two of doctors discussing the situation and expressing concern that they could lose their licenses to practice medicine because of the situation.
In one situation a patient was left in restraints for over four months. He was not allowed to bathe or eat without the restraints. After the patient’s family visited him several days in a row only to find him in the same blood-stained clothing each day, they threatened to file a complaint with the state. Only then was he bathed and properly cared for.
There have also been issues with the over-medication of patients due to some nurses being afraid of working with patients in psychiatric lock down. State law require that the least restrictive method be used to control patients but not all nurses at ARMC are skilled in dealing with those with mental disorders.
More recently, there has been one or two instances of patients being “lost.” In one case the patient was out of the unit for hours before it was discovered. You must remember that many of these patients are in the behavioral health unit because they have been deemed to be a threat to themselves or others under Section 5150 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
Issues concerning the wait time to be seen are also on-going. I can testify to the fact that patients (and often the police officers who bring them in) are left in the reception area for hours on end because the Triage staff, where they must be processed through first, won’t deal with them. As the hours go on, the patients start to decompose. They go from being agitated to downright violent. One patient was left in the reception area so long he finally gave up, went home, and committed suicide.
It is good to know the State of California is conducting an extensive inspection of the hospital but it is concerning to me that apparently the manager in charge, who was supported by Mark Uffer and is responsible for the problems in the behavioral health unit, is being allowed to pick which employees the state is interviewing. I’m told the employees being interviewed are too intimidated to tell the truth. Those who are willing to come forward and let investigators know what is going on are not being questioned.
This investigation apparently does have top management startled. The director of nursing who usually deals with state officials was on vacation when this surprise investigation started but has flown home early to “wine and dine” the investigators. There are serious problems at ARMC. We’ll see if this turns out to be a legitimate investigation or, if once again, the skeletons remain hidden in the closet.
Filed under: Censorship, Civil Liberties, Drugs, Information, Prison Industrial Complex | Tagged: Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Mark Uffer, Patrick Petre, Section 5150 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, Welfare and Institutions Code |