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“Prior to this awful [killing], I thought, if nothing else, my son is safe,” said the mother, who declined to give her name for fear that hospital staff might retaliate against her son. “But even that went away in January.”
Another mother, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said she has lobbied without success for nearly three years for the hospital to form an outside advisory council of patients and parents. “They need more empathy,” she said. “We assumed it would be a therapeutic program, but the reality is it’s more like a security hospital.”
On their list of demands, families and advocacy groups such as NAMI and the Minnesota Disability Law Center are asking DHS and Gov. Mark Dayton to form an outside committee of community experts to review training and be on site at the hospital for the next 90 days to guide a change in staff attitudes and treatment. The groups also want DHS to hire peer specialists for every unit at the hospital.
“It’s time to quit admiring the problem,” said Roberta Opheim, state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, ”and start executing a plan for change.”
Chris Serres • 612-673-4308