Arkansas Institution Employees Feared Retaliation, Watchdog Group
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 9, 2005
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS--"There exists a culture of abuse at the Arkansas State Hospital."
That's the conclusion of Dee Blakley, lead investigator with Arkansas Disability Rights Center, Inc. (DRC), which released a report Monday on its three-month investigation at the psychiatric institution. DRC is the state's federally-mandated Protection and Advocacy System and is responsible for investigating abuse and neglect of people with mental illness at such facilities.
"We fear there may be many more cases which have gone unreported due to the culture which exists there," Blakley added.
Through review of records and dozens of interviews with staff and patients, the investigators substantiated six incidents of patient abuse by staff. Three of those -- resulting in a broken rib, broken arm, and choking incident -- occurred while patients were being restrained.
Blakley told reporters Monday that many of the staff members who told about the abuse feared institution officials would punish them.
"They believed they would face retaliation in one way or another," said Blakley. "We've had reports of staff moved to less desirable shifts, staff relieved of responsibilities. These were staff that were candid during our interviews."
Officials with the hospital and the state's Behavioral Health Services Division denied the charges, explaining that some staff members were disciplined for abuse, not for reporting abuse.
"State Hospital workers say they felt pressured" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
"Three-month investigation concludes patients at Arkansas State Hospital were physically and verbally abused by Hospital employees" (Arkansas Disability Rights Center, Inc.)