ProMedica closes autism center after criminal investigation

Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica closed its autism center at Adrian, Mich.-based ProMedica Bixby Hospital after a criminal investigation into allegations of child abuse by staff, according to The Blade.

The 13-hospital system released a video message on Aug. 27 from ProMedica Chief Experience Officer Kent Bishop, MD, and Brian Kaminski, MD, vice president of patient safety and quality at ProMedica. In the video published by The Blade, the leaders describe how system officials learned of the mistreatment and next steps to address the situation.

The Blade reports ProMedica and Adrian police jointly announced a criminal investigation into the hospital's autism center earlier this month after video footage surfaced of a behavioral technician engaging in "overly assertive behavior modification techniques with a child during a one-on-one session."

Dr. Bishop said in the video the techniques "are not approved by ProMedica."

Additional footage obtained by the health system showed three staff members mistreating at least four children. Drs. Bishop and Kaminski said all three staff members were terminated, and that the health system offered to show the video footage to the children's parents.

"Since becoming aware of the incidents, we have been working to understand what, if any, breakdown in our processes allowed these incidents to occur," Dr. Bishop said in the video. "Although we are still in the process of conducting our own investigation while fully cooperating with authorities, we feel it is important for us to acknowledge that we failed these children and their families who trust us with their autism care. For that we are sincerely sorry."

The officials said the autism center will remain closed until further notice, and apologized to any staff members who may be affected by the change. Dr. Kaminski said in the video ProMedica hopes to bring autism care back to the city, but that officials must "first and foremost ... ensure that we are able to do so in a safe and compassionate manner."

In an Aug. 28 written statement to Becker's Hospital Review, ProMedica said: "Through our proactive monitoring process, ProMedica became aware of incidents at The Autism Center in Adrian, Michigan. In accordance with our procedures, we immediately notified the appropriate parties to inform them about the matter. Since we are in the process of conducting a full investigation, we are unable to discuss specifics. However, we would like the community to know that we are committed to swiftly addressing any concern that is at odds with our high quality care standards."

To access the full report, click here.

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