Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Thompson: Investigation into Hawthorn Center is a step in the right direction for families
RELEASE|January 17, 2024

State Rep. Jamie Thompson today highlighted a recent announcement by the Office of Auditor General (OAG) that will deliver needed transparency and accountability for families with loved ones in state-run care centers.

The OAG announced it will investigate the Office of Recipient Rights for how it handles allegations at the Hawthorn Center in Northville Township, as well as other state-run psychiatric hospitals, as part of its 2024 audit cycle.

“I have consistently advocated for an investigation on behalf of families I have spoken with who deserve answers,” said Thompson, who serves on the House Health Policy Committee as well as the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee. “Our state-run psychiatric care centers have systemic problems that are hurting people. This audit will provide an independent look at how things fell through the cracks and help legislators craft solutions that protect the well-being of people in the state’s care.”

“This is a positive step forward toward accountability and reforms.” 

Thompson has spoken with families who have loved ones at the Hawthorn Center in Novi and Walter Reuther Psychiatric Hospital in Wayne County and have expressed concern and outrage regarding numerous issues. These conversations included a listening session in Rochester Hills in July which allowed impacted individuals to have a platform to share their stories.

Among the issues communicated by those in attendance were barriers and restrictions on weekends that left parents unable to contact their children via phone or visit with them outside of normal workdays; health concerns; erratic educational services; and limited recreation or outdoor time that could jeopardize a patient’s well-being.

In addition to these concerns, families also underscored a controversial and unannounced emergency drill that took place in December 2022 and created psychological trauma for both staff and patients. That event led to a pair of class action lawsuits. Several young patients have also reportedly escaped supervision at Hawthorn, the only state-run psychiatric hospital for minors, showcasing a troubling security pattern.

Following the meeting with victims and impacted families, Thompson signed onto a letter to the OAG requesting a performance review of the center to further examine patient care and opinions of staff about patient treatment, the effectiveness of patient treatment complaints, clinical decisions, reporting, and more.

“It angered me to listen to accounts from people who were failed or had loved ones who were failed,” Thompson said. “It was clear to me that there have been significant missteps with management and care. This is a necessary step to shine a light on what has happened and to fix it so more families in our state aren’t hurt in the future.”

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