Residents protest Michiana Behavioral Health

A group of Plymouth residents is protesting what they claim are unsafe practices at a local mental health facility.

Some of them are former employees of Michiana Behavioral Health and say, during their time with the company, they witnessed several disturbing incidents involving patients and staff.

They say many of the incidents are a direct result of Michiana Behavioral Health not having adequate staffing.

"There are unsafe conditions where you call a code and you don't have enough staff to help," said former worker Dominique Smith.

Smith says on many occassions, one employee would be in charge of more than a dozen clients, which put workers and patients at risk.

If a fight broke out, she says oftentimes there weren't enough employees on hand to help quickly and safely break it up.

"Staff have suffered severe injuries," she said. "Stitches in their faces, fractured eye sockets."

Lori Ruggles says she witnessed similar incidents when she worked at Michiana Behavioral Health.

On at least one occassion, Ruggles says the staff was so consumed with trying to break up a fight, two teenage patients who were unsupervised engaged in sexual conduct.

"They were more concerned about making money than helping the kids," she said.

Along with other Plymouth residents, the women have been protesting Michiana Behavioral Health twice a week, waving signs calling for action along the side of the road.

The group plans to continue picketing from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday until changes are implemented.

But, Michiana Behavioral Health says their allegations aren't true.

In a statement to NewsCenter 16, they said, "Michiana continues to meet all staffing ratios necessary and appropriate to ensure patient safety and maintain regulatory compliance. The hospital takes the safety and well-being of its patients and employees very seriously."

Michiana Behavioral Health is licensed by the state and nationally accredited.

While protestors claim the state has started an investigation into the allegations, it appears the company is in good standing with all regulatory agencies.

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