State turns psychiatric hospital management to private firm

Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum talks to Department of Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price before a cabinet meeting with Gov. Mike Dunleavy, on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Alaska’s only state-owned psychiatric hospital is now being managed by a for-profit company.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum announced Friday he assumed management of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage and immediately contracted with Wellpath Recovery Solutions to manage the facility, with oversight from the state.

The move comes after federal investigators found more than 80 substantial deficiencies from July to December. Among the problems were an individual with an intellectual disability being strapped onto a restraint table and was briefly left alone, crying, in a dark room. Another patient five times drank hand sanitizer when given “alone time.”

Crum said in a release that immediate steps were needed to protect patients and staff, and to ensure complete compliance with federal regulations.

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