LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Michael Webber announced Thursday that the Office of the Auditor General will consider his request for an investigation of the only state-run psychiatric hospital for minors for its 2024 audit cycle.
“This is good news for families who rely on the vital services provided by the Hawthorn Center,” said Webber, R-Rochester Hills. “This audit would help bring to light important data that we can use to hold the facility accountable and identify opportunities to improve care and restore confidence in the center.”
Webber asked for a state audit following the Protect MI Kids listening session he hosted in Rochester Hills on July 14 with state Sen. Jim Runestad and Reps. Tom Kuhn, Jamie Thompson and Mark Tisdel, who each co-signed the formal request to the OAG.
“We heard heartbreaking and tragic accounts from families and young people who have suffered in the care of state; their testimony — combined with an increase in other concerning factors — demands action. As legislators, we have a duty to ensure state officials are held accountable and restore confidence in these agencies for our residents,” Webber said.
In June, Webber, who serves as minority vice chair on the Senate Health Policy Committee, sent letters to Senate committee chairs requesting a legislative hearing to investigate the ongoing problems at the Hawthorn Center.
At least 17 young patients have escaped from the center under the supervision of Hawthorn personnel since 2020, 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.
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 (ORR) at the center, which is responsible for patient treatment complaints.
Lawmakers requested 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 ORR 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.
“We have received your letter requesting the Office of Auditor General conduct a performance audit of the Hawthorn Center,” Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler said in his reply to Webber’s request. “We believe most items from your request could be effectively reviewed in a wider-scope audit of the Office of Recipient Rights (ORR). We can commit to considering ORR during our next audit planning cycle for 2024.”