Sen. Webber urges more investigation, accountability with report of pending Hawthorn settlement

Sen. Webber urges more investigation, accountability with report of pending Hawthorn settlement

LANSING, Mich. — Reports of a pending court settlement between the Michigan Department of Human Services and families of patients at the state’s only state-run psychiatric hospital for minors and families over a controversial emergency drill are further evidence for needed legislative oversight concerning the troubled facility, according to Sen. Michael Webber.

“This anticipated settlement between MDHHS and Hawthorn families illustrates once more the serious need for increased scrutiny and accountability for the agency charged with caring for so many vulnerable young people in our state,” said Webber, R-Rochester Hills.

“Concerns relating to the operation of the Hawthorn Center run much deeper than one disastrous emergency drill. The stories we have heard from families and former patients are heartbreaking, and they deserve answers. I will continue to advocate on behalf of individuals and families who have suffered in the center’s care and look forward to the state auditor general investigating the center more thoroughly in 2024.”

Recent court filings in Horein v. MDHHS and Woodruff v. DHHS have requested stays of proceedings while details of a settlement are worked out between the state agency and the plaintiffs. The Woodruff case was dismissed Monday and attached to the Horein complaint for the settlement process.

Webber has previously called on Senate committee chairs to open hearings on the Hawthorn Center. In July, he made a formal request along with other legislators to the Office of the Auditor General to investigate the hospital after hearing patient and family testimonies shared during a Protect MI Kids listening session that was hosted in Rochester Hills. Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler has said the request will be considered for the office’s 2024 audit cycle.

It was announced in September that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel would not pursue criminal charges in connection with an unannounced active intruder drill that took place at the Hawthorn Center in December. Families have said the unannounced training created panic under the belief that it was a real attack on the hospital and that the state agency caused unnecessary and psychological trauma. The Horein suit also alleges the center violated state constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment, substantive due process and unreasonable seizures.


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