A male patient at Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center has died from injuries suffered during an apparent suicide attempt, prompting a review by state officials.
Thomas Arthur Green was found unresponsive in his room on Oct. 27, a day before his 45th birthday, and died a week later at a hospital, according to county and state health officials.
It’s the latest suicide at state-operated mental health facilities, which have recorded five since early 2015 after going several years with none.
“We are all saddened by this tragic loss,” Human Services Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper said in a statement Wednesday. Piper said her agency is conducting multiple reviews and will continue to seek funding from the Legislature to provide care “in the safest, most therapeutic environment possible.”
Anoka-Metro, which has 110 beds and treats some of the state’s most psychiatrically complex patients, has been under heightened federal scrutiny for much of the past year. After inspections uncovered multiple lapses in patient safety and care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) warned the hospital that it was in “immediate jeopardy” of losing its ability to bill Medicare and Medicaid, a significant share of its budget. CMS has extended federal oversight of the hospital through May 2018.
Though the state has hired more staff and retained a consultant to recommend changes, there are signs that Anoka-Metro is still struggling to protect patients and staff from harm. In a review in August, federal inspectors found that a patient twice attempted suicide with bedding from his room. In one incident, he was found bleeding and unresponsive on the floor. While being transported to a hospital, the patient repeatedly banged his head against the window and kicked nursing staff. Nurses told federal inspectors that they were given no training on safely transporting patients, CMS said.
In a June case, federal inspectors faulted Anoka-Metro for not adequately supervising a patient who drank a bottle of hand sanitizer. The patient, had a blood alcohol level of 0.10, above the legal limit, and was threatening staff, according to a CMS review. The hospital has since removed free-standing bottles of hand sanitizers from patient care areas.
While safety at Anoka-Metro has long been a concern, hospital staff said conditions worsened after passage of a state law in 2013 designed to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in county jails and place them quickly in state care.