LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Michael Webber announced Monday that he has sent a letter to Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler requesting a formal audit of the only state-run psychiatric hospital for minors after hearing testimony last week from families whose loved ones have suffered in the care of the Hawthorn Center and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Protective Services.
The Senate Committee on Health Policy minority vice chair’s letter was co-signed by Sen. Jim Runestad and Reps. Tom Kuhn, Jamie Thompson and Mark Tisdel, who also participated in Friday’s Protect MI Kids listening session in Rochester Hills.
“The stories we have heard range from heartbreaking to tragic; too many young people are suffering when they are supposed to be protected,” said Webber, R-Rochester Hills. “I am grateful to the brave families who shared their stories with us. As legislators, we have a duty to ensure state officials are held accountable and restore confidence in these agencies for our residents.”
The most recent OAG audit of the Hawthorn Center was conducted in 2014 on the effectiveness of the center’s operations, including timeliness of assessments, medication inventory monitoring, internal incident investigative processes, and more. It did not focus on patient care or clinical decisions, opinions of staff about patient treatment, or the effectiveness of the Office of Recipient Rights at the Center, which is responsible for patient treatment complaints.
At least 17 young patients have escaped from the center under the supervision of Hawthorn personnel, and the facility is the subject of a lawsuit pending from an active shooter drill in December 2022. Officials also have plans to temporarily house patients at Reuther Hospital, where adults are currently being treated, while the aged facility is demolished and reconstructed.
“These issues, which have negatively impacted families across the state, deserve a thorough review,” Webber said in his letter to the auditor general. The lawmakers are requesting an updated performance audit of the Hawthorn Center that includes reviews of the following areas:
- Patient care and opinions of staff about patient treatment.
- The effectiveness of the Office of Recipient Rights at the Center, which is responsible for patient treatment complaints then and now.
- Clinical decisions.
- The causes of patient escapes and the circumstances involving the active shooter drill that took place in December 2022.