Oversight board visits Arizona mental hospital after ABC15 report

PHOENIX - For more than a year, a special oversight committee to help patients at the Arizona state mental hospital said they were blocked from doing their work and denied access to the hospital and its patients.

But that changed, at least in part, after a report by the ABC15 Investigators.

The Human Rights Committee was finally permitted to visit the forensic side of the Arizona State Hospital on April 23. It’s a move coming less than two weeks after ABC15 aired a story about the committee’s concerns.

ABC15 learned about the committee’s concerns after several members of the state hospital HRC testified before the Senate Health Committee on February 26 .

They gave blistering statements and accused state hospital officials of preventing them from doing their work.

Members said they had not been able to make a single site visit or talk with any patients even though state law allows them to.

“The hospital will not acknowledge our power or duties,” said Rae Hopf, a committee member who also works as an advocate for people with mental illness.

There are five human right committees (HRC) in Arizona – one for different regions of the state and another specifically for the state hospital. The HRCs are oversight boards given their authority by the state legislature.

Officials with the Arizona State Hospital did not return a request for comment.

ABC15’s ongoing investigation into the Arizona State Hospital can be found here .

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com .

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