An Alaska State Ombudsman report released Tuesday detailed numbers issued raised at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, a state-run psychiatric facility.

An Alaska State Ombudsman report released Tuesday detailed numbers issued raised at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, a state-run psychiatric facility.

Report: API is still not meeting federal regulatory requirements

The department’s commissioner says many of the concerns raised have or are being resolved.

A report by the Alaska State Ombudsman detailed multiple recurring issues at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the only state-run psychiatric hospital in Alaska.

State Ombudsman J. Kate Burkhart investigated a complaint made in November 2020 about the Department of Health and Social Services-run facility.

The complaint had 13 specific allegations dealing with API. According to the report, Burkhart found that API had not created or updated treatment plans required by federal regulations, had not provided active treatment consistently to all patients and had failed to prevent behaviors creating a hostile and discriminatory work environment.

There were 13 complaints made; the report states that the ombudsman prioritized investigating the most critical issues, consolidating several complaints into four findings. The investigation did find that one allegation, that the Health Facilities Licensing and Certification, part of DHSS, had failed to conduct site visits in response to complaints, was unsupported by evidence.

“We do not minimize the concerns raised by the Ombudsman’s office but want to be clear that many of these allegations were originally raised over two years ago and many changes have happened at the facility since that time,” said DHSS commissioner Adam Crum in an email. “My team and I have been addressing issues with API since the first day of the Dunleavy administration and while many have challenged or questioned our methods, there is no doubt that changes have been made and the facility is no longer operating in a state of constant crisis.”

The 2020 investigation followed a 2018 investigation of a complaint addressed to the ombudsman, according to the new report. Many of the issues looked at and found wanting in the previous investigation were still found uncorrected during the new investigation, according to the report.

“The Ombudsman made similar critical findings in 2019, based on a preponderance of evidence that API was not providing adequate treatment planning or active treatment to patients,” the report stated. “The Ombudsman made, and API accepted, recommendations to address these deficits (among others) in 2019. During the 2020-2021 investigation, evidence showed that those recommendations were either not implemented or had been implemented and then stopped with changes in API management.”

Crum detailed a list of ongoing improvements for API, including expanding and enhancing treatment plans, hiring a human resources consultant to train API senior leadership, and filling critical positions in the staff, which is cited in the reports as a major issue.

“These complaints included allegations of racial discrimination, gender discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment, and other conduct in violation of API policy and/or state and federal law,” the report reads. “The investigation also revealed evidence that API and DHSS leadership were aware of complaints about API managers, whom the anonymous complaint alleged had engaged in ‘hostility and staff intimidation,’ and had restricted staff’s ‘ability to voice concerns regarding management’ – but still denied any such complaints had been made.”

Crum also clearly stated the state of Alaska’s ongoing condemnation of all workplace discrimination in his email.

“We will continue to meet these challenges while supporting the patients we serve and the employees who do this critical work. There is no question that the work is complex and difficult and we take these obligations seriously,” Crum said. “We thank the Ombudsman’s office for their work and role in state government but believe the report issued fails to fully outline the current work environment and to recognize changes and improvements that have happened and continue to happen at API over the past few years.”

Read the ombudsman’s full report below:

More in News

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014.
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of March. 19

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year during a press conference at the Alaska State Capitol in December 2022. A lower-than-expected revenue forecast is raising questions about what the state's spending plan will ultimately look like. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Lower revenue forecast increases budget woes for state lawmakers

Coming up with a spending plan for next year and beyond will be a complex series of negotiations.

Office Max at the Nugget Mall in the Mendenhall Valley advertised Permanent Fund dividend sales in July 2020. Alaskans have until the end of the month to apply for the PFD. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
PFD application deadline is next week

Amount in flux as state revenue forecasts lower than expected.

This is a photo of the current site plan of the proposed Capital Civic Center. On Monday night the Assembly authorized $5 million to go toward the project that is expected to cost $75 million. (City and Borough of Juneau)
City OKs $5M toward proposed Capital Civic Center

The money is intended to show the city’s commitment to the project as it seeks federal funding

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, March 21, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This September 2015, photo provided by NOAA Fisheries shows an aerial view of adult female Southern Resident killer whale (J16) swimming with her calf (J50). New research suggests that inbreeding may be a key reason that the Pacific Northwest’s endangered population of killer whales has failed to recover despite decades of conservation efforts. The so-called “southern resident” population of orcas stands at 73 whales. That’s just two more than in 1971, after scores of the whales were captured for display in marine theme parks around the world. (NOAA Fisheries / Vancouver Aquarium)
The big problem for endangered orcas? Inbreeding

Southern resident killer whales haven’t regularly interbred with other populations in 30 generations.

Juneau Brass Quintet co-founding member Bill Paulick along with Stephen Young performs “Shepherd’s Hey” to a packed house at the Alaska State Museum on Saturday as part of the quintet’s season-ending performance. Friends of the Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum sponsored the event with proceeds going to the musicians and FoSLAM. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Top brass turns out for event at State Museum

Free performance puts a capt on a busy season.

Alaska’s state legislators are slated to get the equivalent of 6,720 additional $5 bills in their salary next year via a $33,600 raise to a total of $84,000 due to a veto Monday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy of bill rejecting raises for legislative and executive branch employees. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)
Veto negates rejection of pay hikes for governor, legislators

Dunleavy clears way for 67% hike in legislative pay, 20% in his to take effect in coming months

Most Read