Another embarrassing incident for Central Regional Hospital.

The State Bureau of Investigation has been asked to review allegations that employees at a state mental hospital in Butner used a cell phone to take nude photos of at least one patient.

Two health-care technicians from Central Regional Hospital are on paid leave while the investigation proceeds, Renee McCoy, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday.

The employees, whose names were not released, were sent home after a cell phone provided to hospital administrators Wednesday was found to contain a picture of a partially nude male, according to an incident report filed with Butner Public Safety, a state police agency with jurisdiction over the hospital.

Public safety officers seized the phone and are investigating the incident in cooperation with the SBI, according to the incident report.

Vicki Smith, executive director of the advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina, said that hospital staff photographing nude mental patients, if confirmed, would constitute an “appalling” violation of privacy rights.

Oh, but an email was sent out, problem solved?

Michael Hennike, the director at Central Regional, sent an e-mail to all hospital staff last week to remind them of existing policies that forbid the use of cell phones in areas where patients are present.

“Existing policies” are being short changed by budget cuts. When is the state of North Carolina going to take mental healthcare and people who are developmentally disabled more seriously? You can’t blame the staff and ignore the system. Moreover, you simply cannot pull people off the streets and expect the level of integrity this type of work demands. These facilites need more than qualified management to be successful. The training is sub-standard, the staff is under paid and over-worked, these ingredients spell disaster as evidenced by the repeated abuses. And those cases may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Despite Gov. Beverly Perdue’s repeated pledges of greater government transparency, Lanier Cansler, the health and human services secretary, has refused to release reports on his agency’s investigation into allegations of illicit sex and favors at Dix.

It will take more than administrator’s administrating, IE., Cansler’s “zero-tolerance” policy, his anti-abuse campaign and posters to fix the issues plaguing Dix and Central. What happened to investing in your employees? The state thinks it has issues with the budget now. What if the federal certification funding is pulled due to repeated violations? That action by the fed’s would surely be more costly than the investment for proper training and qualified staff, wouldn’t it. Short-sightedness has doomed many things, like political careers.

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