State police and state and federal health officials are investigating the apparent abuse of three patients with profound disabilities at the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital. Gov. Gina Raimondo said the alleged abuses are upsetting.
Raimondo said Maria Montanaro, the new director she appointed to state department of behavioral healthcare, is conducting a robust investigation.
“It’s deeply troubling. It’s unacceptable. Period,” said Raimondo about the reported abuses. “It is deeply troubling and unacceptable and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it. Again, these are the most vulnerable patients.”
Slater Hospital did not report the abuses to the health department. Raimondo said such abuses cannot happen again.
Montanaro said one of her top priorities is to protect patients. She said she became aware of the reported abuses on her first day as director of the department of behavioral healthcare. Montanaro said these incidents are isolated cases that speak to poor leadership and risk management.
“Anything terrible can occur on any given day in any healthcare setting,” said Montanaro. “It is really to me about the response to that incident that I think left a lot to be desired.”
Since taking the helm of the behavioral healthcare department, Montanaro said she’s taken steps to secure Slater Hospital and ensure the right people have access to treatment rooms. Investigations by her department, the state police, and federal health officials are still ongoing.