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DHHR Being Held In Comtempt For Mental Health Care Issues

Reported by: Send eMail Dan Matics
Reported: Jul. 2, 2014 11:15 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 2, 2014 11:22 PM EDT
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DHHR Contempt
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Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services is being held in contempt of court, after failing to fix problems in the state's mental health care system.

Judge Duke Bloom, more than a year ago, ordered for the DHHR to fix low staffing levels, patient overcrowding and overworked employees at Mildred Mitchell Bateman Hospital in Huntington and William Sharpe Hospital in Weston.

According to court documents, in March, there were 48 vacant positions at Sharpe hospital and 41 positions at Bateman.

Jody Kinser's brother, Michael, was recently a patient at Mitchell Bateman in Huntington for five years.
She said the care for her brother was horrible.

"Something needs to be done," Kinser said. "To know they're trying to do something is the first step, but people are suffering and they are lingering."

The judge said because the DHHR has "failed to comply" and the same problems still "plague" the state's mental health system, he is bringing DHHR officials to court for a contempt of court hearing.

"I'm not supprised," Kinser said.

DHHR declined our request for an on camera interview, but told the Charleston Gazette none of the bureau's actions warrant a contempt order.

Officials have submitted plans to fix the system, but the plans were rejected by the court.

The contempt hearing will take place July 15.



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