Gov. Bill Haslam said he's concerned about the revelations from an ongoing Channel 4 I-Team investigation into the deaths of patients and dozens of disciplinary actions taken on staff at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute.
For months, the Channel 4 I-Team has exposed how patients were left unmonitored and neglected, including one patient left alone long enough to drown himself inside the institute.
"First of all, we have a lot of responsibilities in the state, and we're always concerned if we think there are any questions around whether the people we're supposed to be taking care of, if that's happening in the best manner possible. So are we concerned? Yes," Haslam said.
Haslam said he has asked the commissioner of mental health, Doug Varney, to keep him posted on what the state discovers as it examines the patients' deaths.
The governor also said he hadn't seen the photographs, obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team, of the state employees sleeping inside the institute instead of watching or caring for patients.
"But again, that's our job, to provide the best service for the lowest cost. And when we have employees who are not fulfilling that, that will always be serious for us," Haslam said.
Channel 4 chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley asked Haslam if he thinks there needs to be a change in management at the institute.
"I don't know enough specifically about the situation. That wouldn't be fair for me to comment. But what is fair for me to say is that we take our responsibilities there very seriously," Haslam said.
Haslam's press secretary stated that Haslam couldn't talk specifics about any of the patients' cases because of ongoing lawsuits and HIPPA rules.
Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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