Psych Hospital director aware of help requests

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The interim director of the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital was aware of emails staff sent to her outlining safety concerns, the Michigan Department of Community Health’s spokesperson said.

Spokesperson Jennifer Smith initially told Target 8 Wednesday that she wasn’t aware of these letters. Thursday, she revised that statement, saying she personally wasn’t aware of the emails but interim director Cynthia Kelly was.

Smith spoke on behalf of the department and would not comment on the content of the emails.

“Our priority is always to protect the safety of our patients and our staff,” said Smith. “We are working to determine the appropriate next steps, and in order to do that we need to protect the integrity of the investigation and respect the privacy of our patients. In doing so, we will also be reminding staff of the importance of this investigation and protecting the rights the privacy rights of our patients.”

Target 8 obtained the emails sent to the then interim director that detail staff concerns about their safety dealing with violent patients. There does not appear to have been any response.

>>Inside Suspended Psych Hospital worker blames state

The emails also allege concerns that data was being misrepresented, saying patients were making progress they weren’t.

“At this time, we cannot go through the allegations one by one. When the investigation is over, we would be happy to sit down with you and discuss the reports,” said Smith. “We are aware that the are issues of abuse and neglect at [Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital] and we are working to determine the appropriate next steps.”

Since Smith spoke about abuse and neglect issues in the present tense, Target 8 then asked Smith if those issues are ongoing at the hospital.

“The investigation is still ongoing. I can tell you that as soon as we became aware of these issues, we took swift and immediate action. Three individuals were suspended, and one individual resigned shortly after the investigation was initiated.”

A total of 28 employees have been suspended with pay.  

Target 8 asked Smith if she is confident in saying that patients at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital are safe.

“I would say we are working diligently to protect the rights, the privacy rights, as well as the safety of the individuals there. We are working to determine the appropriate next steps, and in order to do that we need to respect the integrity of the investigation,” said Smith. “It is a process, and we are working to determine exactly what took place, and who was at fault and to address those issues as quickly and efficiently as we can while respecting the due process rights of the staff.”

Smith said she anticipates the investigation will be completed the first week of December.

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