Lawmakers call for independent investigation of Chicago psych hospital

Illinois lawmakers demanded an independent investigation of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital Nov. 1, citing a ProPublica Illinois report outlining allegations of sexual assault, safety violations and abuse among pediatric patients at the facility, according to ProPublica Illinois.

Here are five things to know:

1. In a letter addressed to the head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, three Illinois lawmakers supported the recommendation of DCFS acting Inspector General Meryl Paniak to nominate an independent reviewer to investigation the incidents at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.

2. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois gave DCFS until end of day Nov. 2 to respond to a list of demands, including an independent investigation of the hospital. The ACLU observes DCFS as part of a federal court decree. ACLU will return to court sometime next week if DCFS does not offer an adequate response to the group's requests.

3. The ACLU investigated 16 allegations of abuse and neglect at the hospital since January 2018. The Illinois Department of Public Health has also conducted several inspections of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital on behalf of federal agencies since July and found the hospital failed to guarantee the safety of its suicidal patients and gain patient consent before administering potent medications. The lawmakers said concerns over Lakeshore also highlight a broader problem about children who remain in psychiatric hospitals after they have been cleared for discharge.

4. David Fletcher-Janzen, CEO at Lakeshore Hospital, attributes a portion of the hospital's difficulties to funding cuts for mental health services in Illinois, indicating Lakeshore Hospital is struggling with a "systemic problem of disinvestment in mental health, neonatal and other social services in Illinois that have resulted in one of the weakest social safety nets in the country."

5. The hospital declined ProPublica Illinois's request to comment on specific cases.

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