State mental institution once again under scrutiny - WSMV Channel 4

State mental institution once again under scrutiny

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Mt. Juliet police have questions as to why the Channel 4 I-Team was able to confirm the location of a patient who was taken to the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute, when even they were unable to locate her.

Mt. Juliet police want to know where Lisa McCann is so they can serve a warrant for her arrest, but they say they were never alerted by the state-run facility when she was transferred out of the institute.

Until the Channel 4 I-Team confirmed that McCann had been transferred, the police department was led to believed she had been able to leave the facility on her own.

It all started on the morning of May 14, when Mt. Juliet police said McCann drove away from police after being found asleep in her car.

Police said as they determined that the car was reported stolen from St. Louis, McCann drove off.

Police chased McCann down I-140 until Lebanon police put out spike strips that ultimately caused McCann to come to a stop.

After she was arrested, McCann was taken to a nearby hospital where a doctor recommended she be taken by a deputy with the Wilson County Sheriff's Department to the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute for evaluation.

But when Mt. Juliet police called a week later to try and serve a warrant, the institute told police that McCann wasn't in the computer.

According to Mt. Juliet Police Chief Andy Garrett, police were told that even though a Wilson County deputy had checked McCann in under her name, McCann gave the institute another name and said she was homeless.

Garrett said at that point, all police knew is that the woman accused of driving a stolen car and fleeing from police wasn't at the institute, there was no one there by her name and the institute couldn't tell police where she was because of HIPAA rules.

"It's a breakdown on communication," Garrett said.

The Channel 4 I-Team made a series of phone calls, and a spokesman for the state department of mental health confirmed that on May 17, McCann was transferred to an outside community treatment facility.

"MTMHI did not receive information that any felony warrants were in place or pending. Wilson County Sheriff or Mt. Juliet Police Department did not ask to be notified prior to her release," said Grant Lawrence, a spokesman for the state department of mental health.

Garrett said there's clearly a problem because they were never told that information, and they still have no idea which facility McCann is in.

It all comes as the Channel 4 I-Team continues our five-month investigation into the institute.

Disciplinary records show a patient was forgotten about inside the institution, left the facility and made it all the way to a gas station almost a mile away.

The records show the patient was found with red scratches on his face and stated he had felt like pulling his eyes out.

A spokeswoman for the department of mental health said if they are told by a police department that they need to be notified when a patient is released, they will alert that department.

But several deputies and police officers told the Channel 4 I-Tem that they are not always alerted, even when they ask to be told.

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