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Lawmakers Concerned about Reported Misconduct at Choate Mental Health in Anna

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WRXX) — Lawmakers are voicing concern over reports coming out of Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in Anna and a watchdog group is seeking harsher penalties against healthcare workers who obstruct abuse and neglect investigations.

IDHS Inspector General Peter Neumer is asking legislators for a change in law that would allow his office to report workers engaged in similar misconduct to an existing statewide registry.

The move could bar those employees from working in the health care field in Illinois.

Neumer’s request comes after extensive reporting by Lee Enterprises, Capitol News Illinois and ProPublica last year that revealed a culture of abuse and cover-ups at Choate.

The news organizations detailed how uncooperative staff stymied the state’s ability to hold employees facing serious abuse allegations to account.

Under the current system, state workers who help their colleagues by lying to or misleading investigators can face termination if they’re caught, but findings against them can’t be reported to the registry.

So short of criminal charges, which are rare, nothing would prevent them from going to work in another health care setting.