Legislative Audit Highly Critical of MN Security Hospital at St. Peter

Updated: 02/28/2013 11:09 PM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

The Legislative Auditor recently released an audit of one of the state's largest psychiatric care facilities and it is very critical.

Among other things, the audit says the Minnesota Security Hospital has an inadequate number of licensed psychiatrists and assaults against staff have doubled. Taxpayers pay 67-million dollars a year to keep the facility open. The audit also says the Security Hospital has experienced erratic leadership changes and does not have a clear mission.

The Security Hospital has 388 clients described as mentally ill and dangerous. All of them are there by court order. The Legislative Auditor says, over the years, most psychiatrists worked less than 40 hours a week and some less than 32 hours a week. The auditor says that can adversely affect patient care and, in part, put staff in vulnerable and unsafe conditions. The audit says there were 32 assaults against staff in 2011 and doubled to 63 assaults in 2012. The audit also says a lot of these problems have persisted for years at the Security Hospital.

Officials at the Minnesota Department of Human Services tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the conditions are "unacceptable" and significant changes are being made to improve operations.  Deputy DHHS Commissioner, Anne Barry, says there are also six part-time psychiatrists and other therapeutic staff which help deliver quality care and give taxpayers' a good return on their investment. Barry says the agency is exploring a psychiatric residency program with the University of Minnesota to keep a steady flow of psychiatric professionals cycling through the Security Hospital. Governor Dayton has also said he would like more funding to improve conditions at the facility.