EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSEYEWITNESS NEWS EXCLUSIVE
from Eyewitness News Online
Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital Mistakenly Discharges Patients To Unlicensed Facility
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jun. 11, 2012 10:07 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 11, 2012 10:27 PM EDT
Hamlin , Lincoln County , West Virginia
Four patients at the Mildred Mitchell-Bateman mental hospital are mistakenly released to an unlicensed home in Lincoln County, and some of those patients are missing.
Eyewitness News was the only station there was the hospital came to get those patients back, and realized they had already taken off.
It's an issue that came to light Monday morning when the hospital learned they had discharged four of their patients to an unlicensed home in Hamlin. Now, a family is outraged and many questions linger as to how this fell through the cracks.
"How could they send him to a facility that's not licensed?" asks Janet Bowling. She says her 22-year-old old nephew has been a patient a Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington off and on for a year. She says he suffers from schizophrenia.
To her surprise, he was discharged on Thursday and sent to a home on Main Street in Hamlin. It's known only as "Pathway." It sits just feet outside the Lincoln County courthouse, and run by a man named Rick Clay. Clay declined to say who owned the facility.
"I don't know where they got the impression that we're anything different than what we are," Clay told Eyewitness News.
Clay calls the facility a "boarding house" that transitions alcoholics and drug addicts back into society. But the problem is, he's not licensed to care for the mentally ill.
On Monday, hospital staff learned they'd been discharging patients to his care. Clay calls them "clients" and says they pay rent, and are free to come and go as they please.
"We have guidelines and none of them has broken any guidelines here," Clay told the sheriff's department.
Our cameras were rolling as hospital staff showed up to take the four patients back into their care, but that's when they were told the patients had already taken off. Reportedly, they were tipped off by Clay that they were going to be taken back to the hospital.
Admissions Director Melinda Smith declined to go on camera, but said in a statement, "It was learned today that those patients had been sent to a transitional house that was not licensed. It is against policy for any state facility to release any patient to a group home, or transitional house that is not licensed by the state."
"I'm really upset that the hospital would send him to a facility that is unlicensed," said Bowling.
Hamlin's mayor and police chief says he was completely unaware the facility existed until Saturday night when one of the patients became extremely unruly in the middle of the street and was sent back to the hospital.
"My issue on it is that they never applied for any type of license in the town, never informed the town or any of my police officers this place even existed," said Chris Wilkinson.
"I don't know. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me and it all stems from Mildred Bateman's mistake," said Clay.
For Bowling, it's a mistake by the hospital and Clay that she says has put her nephew in danger.
"I just hope all the patients are safe right now and that this man gets in trouble for what he's done," she says.
The hospital had to have pick-up orders issued for the patients, who they say can be taken back into their custody without a mental hygiene hearing.
Officers say Clay could be charged with a crime.
Bowling says her nephew was located Monday evening, but the hospital has not called to confirm that with her. She says she was told by the sheriff's department.
The other three patients are reportedly still missing.
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