Protecting the most vulnerable

    Following a series of abuses at the Delaware Psychiatric Center in recent years, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed a trio of bills into law today that are designed to help protect patients at the center.

    Following a series of abuses at the Delaware Psychiatric Center in recent years, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed a trio of bills into law today that are designed to help protect patients at the center. “If we make mistakes, we have to own up to them and say what can we do better the next time,” Markell said. Among those past mistakes at the psychiatric center, two former staffers were accused of abusing patients in 2007.  In one of those cases, a patient’s jaw was broken. Another case alleged rape and other abuses.

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    The first bill Markell signed, House Bill 36, opens up the records of patients at the center to the Delaware Community Legal Aid  Society, a watch-dog group that helps ensure patients get the representation they’re entitled to. Markell says H.B. 36 will “make sure that people are protected, make sure there’s a watch-dog group that gets to see incidents as they happen.” The next bill, H.B. 38, requires that state officials notify the Legal Aid Society of any patient death or critical incident within 72 hours. The final bill Markell signed extends anti-retaliation protections to all DPC employees and patients.

    Markell says this is “an issue that’ s important for so many families, thousands of families in the state of Delaware, and it’s the right thing to do.” But he acknowledges, getting the bills passed and signed into law is only the first step, “The legislation only takes us so far, now it’s really up to us to implement [the laws] well.”

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