The U.S. Department of Justice has closed its investigation of Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Camden County. The hospital came under scrutiny in 2008 after six patients died within 20 months.
Ancora’s new CEO Allan Boyer says the end of the investigation is a sign that the hospital is moving in the right direction. Overcrowding was one of the main issues leading to unsafe conditions for patients, he said. The hospital has since reduced its patient population significantly, going from close to 800 to about 500.
Increased state funding added more options for treatment in communities. And patient care at the hospital is now divided into acute care and extended care, to better meet patient needs.
Boyer says staff training is another important focus in improving overall care.
“One of the things we’re really trying to do is increase the level of training for our staff,” he said. “A lot of it is not just number of staff, but you want a certain level of skill in the staff that you get.”
Boyer said the end of the official investigation does not mean the hospital’s improvement work is finished.
“Culture change is very slow, and we’re making some progress,” Boyer said. “Quite frankly, there is a lot of work still to be done.”
“While we are proud and happy that the Department of Justice made this decision, we must move forward and continue to make a lot of the changes we are making,” he said.
The DOJ and community advocacy groups say they will continue to monitor conditions and patient safety at Ancora.