A veteran Twin Cities health care attorney has been hired to investigate the bungled case of a psychiatric patient who was discharged last month from the Minnesota Security Hospital and then dropped off on a Minneapolis street corner to fend for himself.
Attorney Mary Foarde, a former general counsel at Allina Health System and now a partner at Friedemann-Foarde in Minneapolis, will review the incident and make recommendations to state officials to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
“That anyone would think it’s OK to discharge someone from a state security hospital to a homeless shelter is just fundamentally wrong,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, who appointed Foarde and whose agency oversees the hospital.
“This appears to have been a systems failure, and it has to be examined to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Jesson said in an interview Thursday.
Raymond Traylor, 23, a psychiatric patient and a registered sex offender, was released in a case marked by paperwork and care errors. After the case was reported in the Star Tribune, Gov. Mark Dayton voiced his anger, calling the incident a series of “failures and blunders.”
Traylor’s discharge was the latest in a series of care and management lapses at the St. Peter hospital, Minnesota’s largest psychiatric facility and home to nearly 400 of the state’s most dangerous patients.
Foarde is expected to complete her findings by the end of September. The Department of Human Services will pay her firm $5,000. The contract calls for Foarde to examine circumstances surrounding “the failure to develop and execute an appropriate discharge plan, and identify system failures that resulted.”
Traylor has a long, violent criminal record and psychosis that dates back to his childhood, according to court records. Before his release, he underwent a series of electroshock therapy sessions because his violent behavior could not be controlled even by a maximum dosage of medications, records show.
The Star Tribune found that medical and social work staff at the St. Peter hospital failed to write a mandatory 60-day progress report on Traylor’s condition and, as a result, had to release him from state care. Two hospital staff drove him from St. Peter and dropped him on a street corner a half block from the Harbor Light Salvation Army Center where, it turned out, he had been banned due to violent behavior in the past.
When the newspaper alerted center staff to Traylor’s circumstances, the Salvation Army decided to lift the no-trespass order and provided him with emergency housing and supervision.
Jesson said that in the interim she has ordered that no patient be discharged from a state operated facility to a homeless shelter.
Jesson said her initial findings indicate that the security hospital staff did not have an adequate backup plan for times when a discharge administrator was absent or on vacation — the probable reason why Traylor’s progress report was not completed in time for a judge’s review.
“There was no backup, and now we have a second person who will be part of any review,” Jesson said.
“We need to move to a culture in the security hospital where people feel they don’t have to hide their mistakes. But what happened here was so totally inappropriate that it shows we have much more work ahead of us. I want us all to learn from this so it never happens again.”