Sen. Webber applauds state auditor for announcing ORR investigation that will include Hawthorn Center

Sen. Webber applauds state auditor for announcing ORR investigation that will include Hawthorn Center

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Michael Webber on Friday thanked the Office of Auditor General (OAG) for its announcement to investigate the Office of Recipients Rights (ORR) for how it handles allegations at the Hawthorn Center and other state-run psychiatric hospitals as part of its 2024 audit cycle.

“The Department of Health and Human Services’ management of the Hawthorn Center has become a serious concern,” said Webber, R-Rochester Hills. “The state auditor’s investigation will help shine light on areas where increased scrutiny and accountability are most needed. We have a duty to these young people and their loved ones to ensure that our state-run facilities are operating correctly and following all appropriate policies and laws.”

In November, it was reported that a court settlement between MDHHS and parents and employees from the Hawthorn Center Michigan’s only state-run psychiatric hospital for minors — was being worked out over a controversial emergency drill that took place in December 2022. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office had previously announced that it would not pursue criminal charges in connection to the unannounced active intruder drill. Families have said the incident created panic under the belief that it was a real attack on the hospital and that the state agency caused unnecessary and psychological trauma.

Webber made the formal request along with other lawmakers for an OAG investigation of Hawthorn in July following patient and family testimonies that were shared during a Protect MI Kids listening session hosted in Rochester Hills. He had previously called on Senate committee chairs to open hearings on the Hawthorn Center.

“It is clear there are systemic problems throughout our state-run psychiatric hospitals, not just at Hawthorn, that require us to understand what is going wrong and be assured that state resources are being spent on helping our residents who need MDHHS services instead of legal fees and court settlements. More importantly, families should not have to worry about the basic well-being of their loved ones while in the state’s care,” Webber said.


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