More state employees caught sleeping in mental institution - WSMV News 4

More state employees caught sleeping in mental institution

Posted: Updated:

Three months after the Channel 4 I-Team exposed photographs of state employees sleeping inside a state mental institution, disciplinary records show more employees have been caught sleeping instead of caring for patients.

Internal records obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team also show patients at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute getting into dangerous situations when no one was watching them.

One internal report shows on July 19, a patient was spotted by staff on the railroad tracks and at the NES building, which are roughly a mile away from the institution.

The patient was shirtless, and the report does not indicate how he got outside.

Another internal report shows on June 29, a patient snuck into a medication room and stole medicine. The report read that the patient was found with bags of medicine and had ingested hundreds of milligrams of pills.

The disciplinary records show just days after the Channel 4 I-Team aired photographs of employees sleeping, other workers were caught asleep on the job.

Two employees were cited in May for sleeping on the job instead of watching patients whom they were supposed to be constantly watching.

Another disciplinary record showed a psychiatric technician was found asleep outside a patient's room and the patient's room was unlocked.

The Channel 4 I-Team uncovered in February that patient Cody Skelton drowned himself in his bathroom after the door was left unlocked.

A state procedural manual for how to handle patients reads that bathrooms in patients' rooms should always be locked.

Throughout our eight-month investigation, no one from the Department of Mental Health nor the institute would comment on camera.

After we forwarded the internal reports to the state Department of Mental Health, spokesman Grant Lawrence stated in an email, "As the document you forwarded violates both state and federal privacy laws, we cannot comment."

"The fact that you've uncovered the instances, would say there's a problem," said Roger Stewart, deputy director of the National Association on Mental Illness.

Stewart said everything the Channel 4 I-Team has exposed shows the state is punishing employees, but does not appear to be doing enough to prevent problems.

"What we want to see is a concentration on prevention rather than discipline," Stewart said.

A revamped copy of the institute's management of patients at risk indicates the state is trying to prevent future patients from injuring other patients.

In June, a new procedure was included called "management of patient aggression."

In April, patient Thaddeaus Odom got into a fight with patient James Hodge.

The two men were left in a nearby room afterwards within eyesight of each other, and police say a few hours later Odom murdered Hodge.

The new policy reads that patients who fight must be placed in different locations on the treatment unit, and a patient should never (to the extent possible) be in visual range of the other patient or patients involved in the confrontation.

Lawrence said the new policy was not developed because of Hodge's death.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WSMV; Nashville, TN. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.