Legislator: Families deserve answers after prolonged calls for accountability
State Rep. Jamie Thompson has sent a letter to House Appropriations Behavioral Health Subcommittee Chair Felicia Brabec demanding the committee look into instances where the state’s juvenile mental health system has failed families in greater Detroit.
In the letter, Thompson, of Brownstown, specifically outlines concerns at the Hawthorn Center in Novi and the Walter Reuther Psychiatric Hospital in Wayne County. Walter Reuther is currently temporarily housing children within an adult facility.
“Standing up for families and making sure children in our region and throughout the state are safe are my top priorities in the Legislature,” Thompson said. “There have been several reports and accounts about troubling issues at these two facilities. Even as months go by, there has been no accountability and very little commitment to remedying these situations so they don’t continue to happen in the future. This has to change.”
Thompson has met and spoken with families who have loved ones in both facilities and have expressed concern and outrage regarding numerous issues. Among those issues are communication barriers and restrictions on weekends that have left parents unable to contact their children via phone or visit with them outside of normal workdays, health concerns, erratic educational services and limited recreation or outdoor time that could jeopardize a patient’s well-being.
After meeting with families and hearing their stories this summer, Thompson joined other legislators in calling for a state audit of Hawthorn. The facility has had a number of patient escapes – 17 in all since 2020 – amidst other reports of safety, security and treatment issues.
“In addition to what these families have shared, multiple organizations dedicated to advocating for children’s mental health have engaged with my office to express their concerns,” Thompson said. “They deserve to have their voices heard. Since the state is charged with the well-being of children and adults in its care, we should be dedicated to seeking answers and ensuring transparency.
“I was recently told that Democrats in the Legislature would be looking into these matters. But we need more urgency. Families have heard for months that these issues are going to be looked at, and they still are demanding answers. It is imperative that this legislative panel conducts a hearing to investigate these matters thoroughly and develop a comprehensive plan that addresses concerns and delivers crucial care for these vulnerable individuals.”
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