The state Department of Children and Families is requesting an independent review of the state-run psychiatric facility in Middletown after a teenager committed suicide last month.
The Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center – South Campus, is a treatment facility for children that includes hospital units and a “Psychiatric Treatment Residential Facility” (PRTF). The PRTF, which is where the death occurred, is meant to be a step out of hospital care for young patients.
“This is a crushing loss for the family but also for the professional medical and direct care staff who work hard every day to provide treatment and safe care for our youth,” Commissioner Joette Katz said in a statement. “It is going to be useful that we bring in some fresh eyes to make sure that we are doing everything possible to secure a safe environment.”
The independent review would look over all aspects that go into creating a safe environment for treatment, including physical features, staff training and staffing levels, emergency protocols and equipment, youth assessments, and how the licensed medical staff and direct care staff coordinate work.
The suicide occurred despite measures already taken at the hospital and the PRTF. Work at the PRTF started in 2015 and included work to address physical risks in bathrooms and bedrooms, and included alternations to everything from sinks to door handles to towel hooks.
The facility has already made some changes following the suicide, including adding certain medical equipment in both the hospital and PRTF units, and changing some procedures. There are also plans to put cameras in the halls of the facility to better monitor patients.