Friday, September 28, 2012
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Office of Mental Health official coerced subordinates to deceive oversight agency, Inspector General claims
ALBANY -Acting New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott announced the completion of an investigation which found officials at the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center allowed the release of residents from the facility without a required discharge plan. The investigation also revealed that the acting Deputy Director of Program Operations later directed staff to falsify discharge plan records to cover up the lapse in procedure.
The Inspector General’s office is referring the case to the Kings County District Attorney and the State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The Inspector General has also recommended that the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) strengthen discharge procedures and discipline staff implicated in the investigation.
“Discharge plans exist for a reason,” said Acting Inspector General Scott, “to protect the health and safety of residents being released. This failure put innocent people at risk, and that is unacceptable.”
OMH regulations on patient discharge require the development of an initial discharge plan upon a resident’s arrival. According to Kingsboro PC policy, plans are reviewed weekly and revised when necessary. Residents’ progress and the availability of housing options are supposed to be discussed at these weekly meetings.
In a May 2010 investigation of a complaint regarding an April 2010 resident discharge, CQC determined Kingsboro PC had inappropriately discharged a Mary Brooks TLR resident on a street corner near a shelter. The Inspector General’s investigation began after CQC’s discovery of the falsified discharge documents in a 2011 follow-up review of its own.
After this egregious discharge, the Inspector General’s investigation found that Tanya Priester, then Acting Deputy Director of Program Operations at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, compelled staff to sign resident discharge forms in an effort to deceive CQC that policies had been followed.
The Inspector General recommended that OMH:
• Discipline Priester and other Kingsboro PC officials as appropriate;
• Promulgate uniform discharge policies that include a verifiable review and pre-approval requirement by management;
• Review Kingsboro and Mary Brooks TLR discharge plans;
• Conduct periodic audits to ensure compliance at all the TLRs it oversees.
OMH has indicated it has disciplined Priester and other Kingsboro PC staff. In response to this report OMH is reviewing for implementation the Inspector General’s recommendations with respect to discharge policies. OMH will advise the Inspector General within 90 days on its implementation.