Multnomah reviewing 1,200 reports of abuse of mentally ill adults since last year

Portland Tribune, September 05, 2018

Probe followed former employee’s complaint of being muzzled by county mental health managers.

Multnomah County is releasing new details of how it is reviewing its handling of abuse complaints regarding adults with mental illness in the wake of a former employee going public with concerns.

And it is hoping to hear from people who, since January 2017, have made those complaints.

The task is not a small one: the county says it is looking at nearly 1,200 reports, which can include phone calls or emails. According to a statement released Wednesday morning, the county hopes to ensure that “necessary action” was taken, including through consultation with the state, local prosecutors and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

On Aug. 7, newly retired county mental health investigator Greg Monaco went public with his story of being blocked from raising concerns about patient safety and neglect with Unity Center for Behavioral Health, a psychiatric emergency ward operated by Legacy Health.

After a state report was released that verified his concerns and found patients had been placed in “immediate jeopardy,” including one who died of neglect, the county launched the investigation into Monaco’s concerns and placed two managers on paid leave.

Here is the full statement.

Multnomah County to review every abuse report, assure safety of community

The immediate health and safety of people who have received mental health services in our community is paramount. On Wednesday, as part of its investigation process into how reports of abuse of an adult with a mental illness were handled last year, Multnomah County announced it is doing everything it can to ensure that past and current practices for receiving and handling abuse reports are robust and thorough.

In addition to launching a full investigation and making administrative changes on Aug. 15, we have taken three key steps to assure community members’ health and safety:

•We have made immediate policy and practice changes to make certain that reports of abuse are properly handled. One hundred percent of all new reports are being inspected by a manager.

•In our retrospective review, we are also evaluating each of nearly 1,200 reports made between January 2017 and August 2018 to assess compliance with processes and protocols, to see to it that necessary action has been taken. As part of our due diligence, we are reviewing these matters from every angle and are consulting with the State, the Multnomah County District Attorney, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to ensure public safety.

•We are asking that anyone who reported abuse of an adult with a mental illness during those dates and has concerns about the report to call 503-988-8170.