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McKee still hopeful Eleanor Slater will win accreditation despite gruesome patient incident

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee said Tuesday he’s hopeful that efforts to ensure Eleanor Slater Hospital retains its accreditation won’t be set back by a recent incident involving a patient who partially removed their own eye with a spoon.

McKee confirmed he’s been briefed about the incident, which happened last week inside the state-run hospital’s Benton facility in Cranston. But he declined to comment on any specifics, citing an “ongoing investigation.”

More broadly, the governor said he’s hopeful the issue will not negatively affect the hospital’s chances of receiving full accreditation from The Joint Commission, a national agency that has threatened to revoke accreditation because of separate and ongoing issues there.

“I would hope that this wouldn’t impact that, and I don’t imagine that it would, but I’m sure it will come up in discussions,” McKee said Tuesday during a news conference.

As Target 12 first reported Saturday, the patient was inside their room when they used the spoon to hurt themselves, and state officials have since been investigating how the patient had access to the utensil. It was unclear how long the patient was left unchecked, but Target 12 has confirmed a memo was sent out stating that three employees will be disciplined as a result of the incident.

The Benton facility serves the hospital’s so-called “forensic psych” patients, who are people that have been ordered there through the state’s courts system for mental health reasons. There are typically about 50 patients living there at any given time, according to BHDDH documents shared with lawmakers earlier this year.

Earlier this year, a review team from The Joint Commission issued a scathing report on conditions at Eleanor Slater. The agency threatened to revoke the hospital’s accreditation, which allows the state to receive millions of dollars in federal support. The commission’s report referenced another incident in 2019 involving a nurse who told a patient to “go shoot yourself.”

The commission is expected to return to the hospital soon to check in, and state officials have been scrambling to resolve many of the issues identified in the report.

“If we get an extension, whether we get accreditation — those are still not known,” McKee said.

Despite the uncertainty, McKee expressed some optimism about the outlook.

“I believe we’re in a spot that we’re going to move forward,” he added. “I’m just not sure how fast.”

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is an investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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