Mental Health Advocates Call for Change at MN State Hospital - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Mental Health Advocates Call for Change at MN State Hospital

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(KARE 11 TV) ST. PETER, Minn. - After a patient at a security hospital in St. Peter killed another patient, mental illness advocates call for change.

"The care provided at St. Peter is of poor quality and there continues to be an inadequate focus on active treatment," said Sue Abderholden, Executive Director National Alliance of Mental Illness in Minnesota.

Abderholden said the recent release of a state report about what happened has several glaring errors.

First, the report lists five security counselors and two health care professionals on staff at the time of the death. That's a ratio of one staff member per two patients.

"Leadership and the governor need to make this a priority," said Abderholden.

NAMI called on the Department of Human Services and the governor to assign an outside person to monitor the facility and the patients, something DHS said is under consideration.

Additionally, NAMI believes all staff need to be trained in "de-escalation" techniques along with appropriate use of seclusion and restraints and DHS agreed more training is needed.

NAMI also emphasized the need for peer specialists for every unit to be involved in all aspects of care and work alongside the staff, something DHS is again in agreement.

Mental illness advocates said this is all just a start, what's really needed is an overhaul of the system on the front end so those who are ill can get the help they need before something happens that finds them at the hospital in St. Peter.

DHS fined the hospital $1,000 and said it is deeply troubled by the patient's death.

The hospital is currently operating under a conditional license and while officials say they've made progress changing the culture, it's not happening fast enough.

DHS also said it looks forward to working with mental illness advocates to ensure changes are made so patients receive, better safer care.
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