Los Angeles Times Examines Care at Metropolitan State Hospital
Metropolitan State Hospital in 2002 adopted a new model for care, but the facility "is more dangerous than any of California's three other long-established mental hospitals," according to a Los Angeles Times review of state data and legal claims.
Federal investigators in 2002 objected to the facility's use of drugs and restraints in treating patients. As a result, state officials adopted a recovery model focused on encouraging patients to be more involved in managing their mental illnesses and helping them develop skills to "live on the outside," the Times reports.
The Times found that the use of multiple drugs, restraints and seclusion has declined at the hospital. However, according to the Times' review:
- Reports of self-harm were twice as high between January 2004 and June 2005 compared to the previous 18 months;
- The number of reported escapes increased to 18 between January 2005 and June 2005, twice as many as in the previous six months and the highest for any six-month period since mid-2002;
- Escapes from Metropolitan totaled nearly 60 from July 2002 to June 2005, compared with eight from Napa State Hospital, three from Patton State Hospital and none from Atascadero State Hospital over the same period;
- Metropolitan patients alleged 65 incidences of rape and other inappropriate sexual contact over a three-year period beginning in mid-2002 -- "far higher than at other facilities";
- Seventy-three allegations of physical abuse by staff were reported in the last three years, compared with 38 at Patton, 33 at Napa and three at Atascadero; and
- Acts of aggression against the staff have more than doubled since mid-2002, but dropped slightly in 2004.
Metropolitan officials said none of the rape allegations and only one physical abuse allegation has been substantiated.
Department of Mental Health Director Stephen Mayberg and Metropolitan officials said the new approach to care has resulted in shorter patient stays and fewer return visits to the hospital. Officials also noted that there have been no escapes from the facility's criminal compounds since 2002 (Romney/Lin, Los Angeles Times, 12/15).