PLYMOUTH -- A small group of people gathered near the intersection of U.S. 30 and Oak Road around 5 p.m. Thursday to protest a local mental health facility.
Dominique Smith of South Bend, who identified herself as the group’s spokesperson, said that she and the others present are protesting “the fact that Michiana Behavioral Health remains understaffed and unsafe.”
Smith said she worked at Michiana Behavioral Health from November 2010 to April 2012. She claims that she saw or heard from other staff members incidents of sexual misconduct between staff and patients and patients attacking and beating staff members.
“We are going to be out here every Tuesday and Thursday until we get a response,” said Smith.
Smith said she resigned from her position in April 2012 because of the alleged issues at the facility and because she felt that she was being discriminated against by a specific staffer.
Her group chose Thursday to protest because, according to Smith, that’s one of the parent visit days at the health center.
“We want the parents (of patients) to see our signs, so they know when their kids write home that what they are saying is true,” said Smith.
She added, “We’ve been trying to do this for a while, but we had to research as far as figuring out where we could picket.”
Smith said that the group could not hold their demonstration in front of Michiana Behavioral Health because there is no sidewalk. She said she contacted manufacturing companies across the street from the health center and asked if the group could picket on their property. Smith as turned down and told that police would be called if there was a gathering on their property.
Signs toted by members of the group displayed messages such as: “Parents need to know” and “Need before greed? Not at MBC.”
The signs also urged passerby to visit www.cchr.org , Citizens Commission on Human Rights website.
Smith said that she has spoken with members of management at Michiana Behavioral Health about the alleged problems but she was not happy with their response.
Michiana Behavioral Health released a statement to The Pilot News that reads:
“The management and staff at Michiana Behavioral Health are proud of its track record of providing the highest quality of care for patients with special, and sometimes complex, mental health needs. Prior to placement on any unit of the hospital, each of our patients is given a comprehensive mental health clinical evaluation. Accommodations and roommate designations are determined based upon multiple clinical elements as well as the developmental age of each patient.
Programming and treatment are prescribed on an individual basis. All patients are visibly observed continuously by unit personnel and every unit is staffed appropriately to ensure a safe and therapeutic environment.
The Hospital’s management is precluded from discussing the specific details of any individual patients case, due to strict confidentiality and privacy laws.
Michiana Behavioral Health remains fully dedicated and committed to its mission of providing excellent programs and services that will improve the overall health and well-being of its patients and their families.”