Another Death at Troubled State Psychiatric Institution in Pueblo

Facility received 1,100 patient complaints in 2008-09, reported 11 patient deaths in 2009

Another person has died while in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP), according to the Denver Post: The cause of death of 41-year-old Troy Allen Geske, who died several days ago, will not be known until an autopsy is complete.

His death is being closely followed because of recent revelations of other deaths at the psychiatric facility, including the suicide of Sergio Taylor.  An autopsy report indicated 23-year-old Taylor died of asphyxiation in September 2009 after complaining about conditions at the CMHIP.  He was found by law enforcement officers under blankets with a plastic bag over his head in a supposedly high-security area of the psychiatric facility.  About a month earlier, Taylor and 19 other patients had signed a petition that said, “The sense of hopelessness has set in….  History has shown here…that when patients are feeling bored, hopeless and warehoused, …assault and suicide attempts transpire.”

As a direct result of Taylor’s death and citing concerns that other patients could die, the Colorado Department of Health conducted an immediate investigation of CMHIP in October 2009, according to The Denver Channel (KMGH): In its report, the health department found patients at the state hospital in Pueblo to be in “immediate jeopardy” and detailed serious errors by the institution’s staff.  The department conducted an unannounced inspection of the facility again this past May.

CALL7 investigators from The Denver Channel, who have been reporting on deaths at the state hospital for months, also uncovered the death of another patient of the CMHIP, whose death was never reported to the state health department by CMHIP.  Josh Garcia died after being overdrugged and neglected by staff at the psychiatric institution.  According to his family, Garcia was given a number of powerful psychiatric drugs and suffered serious adverse effects, including severe abdominal pain.  He complained to the staff but was ignored, according to his family.  By the time Garcia was taken to a hospital, it was too late.  His bowels burst, severe infection set in, and he was brain dead within hours.  His family sued and recently received a settlement from the state over his death.

The Colorado Legislative Audit Committee has also called for repeated investigations of the CMHIP in recent years, due to complaints it receives.  In a report released in December 2009, the Office of the State Auditor found numerous deficiencies in the operations of the CMHIP that compromised safety and proved costly to the state.  Among these deficiencies, the institution did not adequately record, investigate or resolve patient complaints.  For 25 percent of the 1,100 patient complaints relating to staff behavior and quality of treatment issues the facility recorded in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the database did not even contain the names of the 270 staff members who were the subject of the complaints.  The report also revealed that there were 11 patient deaths at the facility last year, the highest number in the three years covered in the report.  How many of those were suicides, besides the suicide of Sergio Taylor, is unknown.  Another audit is underway currently, again at the request of state legislators, to determine if there are other patients who have died of neglect at the state psychiatric hospital.

The CMHIP also has a history of failing to keep the public safe from the mentally ill housed there who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity in connection with serious crimes.  Nine such patients escaped in 2009, with patient escapes at a three-year high.

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9 thoughts on “Another Death at Troubled State Psychiatric Institution in Pueblo”

  1. I love your blog… I am a student working on bachelors in human services focusing on mental health. I am following the problems at Pueblo, and came across your bolg. Keep up the good work!

  2. Sorry for the loss and yes understaffed and ridiculed every time the patient that is in there for a reason didn’t get their way and yes they connive and manipulate to get their way!! There are a few bad seeds in every place but where in the hell is the staffs rights ?!? For all the families that feel they should be treated like they did nothing wrong let me tell ya .., when your not there you don’t see the spitting , throwing crap and harming anyone in their way throwing a fit !!! Hey wake up they are not the sad little kid being punished for a small thing !!! They hurt someone and took away their freedoms when they killed raped or did what ever they did to be in there!!! GODBLESS THE STAFF FIR THE HARD WORK OF DEALING WITH THESE PEOPLE THAT CRY CAUSE THEY DIDNT GET THEIR WAY!!! Yes things happen cause they get one threw the system that needs to be delt with by giving the right staff / patient ratio and the funds that are cut due to the liberals that want their cake and eat it too .. The ones in there for help and are rehabilitated back with proper meds and treatment yes they deserve the perks of good behavior but be careful you families that cry abuse cause they didn’t get a reward for bad behavior cause it could be your sister daughter or son ext.. That gets one of these that get out cause they played sick and taken to hospital where they get what they want a way to run or TLC yes I’ve seen both sides and do a assessment of the patient anything out if norm yes get them help but 9 out of 10 are doing what they do best and that’s play the system and then all you complain cause the staff didn’t protect the community !!! Truth is if they really wanted to die there is not one thing anyone can do they will find a way just like complain their rights are being violated cause they are under 24 hr watch so the staff gets the Blame cause they got state up their butt and gets them private time !!! Then they kill themselves .. Sad but True!!! I’m sorry for the staff that has to deal with this Constance knife in their backs cause the one thing there is to protect their rights are the ones sticking that deeper in their backs cause it’s always the staffs fault the patient is being treated like a prisoner and they don’t get their 3 hots and a cott RIGHT ??? Well sorry you want and want but cut and cut so make up your minds liberals cause you either want to be safe or you want these criminals that work the system and WE PAY FOR!! To get treated like royalty and pat them on the back for the murder rape or what ever insane criminal act they did!!!! Sorry so blunt but I would put myself in the shoes of the hard working staff that try’s to do the job of caring for the patients that hit them spit in them and throw their crap at them everyday !!!!! All while being half staffed and underpaid … Way to go America I bet half of you hell 3/4 of you couldn’t and wouldn’t make it threw the first day and run home crying cause you had your ass handed to you .. May God watch over you all that do this job and keep your insanity cause I am proud to say I’ve done a tiny bit of this type and just the elderly are hard and really trying on every last nerve so thank you for your dedication and know at least there is some of us that understand and care about what you do the saying “shit rolls down hill” is soooo true so thanks …

    1. The staff is paid and knows what kind of job they are gong in for. If the people are crazy or on a ton of mind altering meds YES they may be pissed and throw shit! the staff KNOWS they working with crazies and MAD ppl! REMEMBER they are PAID to Ignore, mistreat, over drug, misdiagnose and NOT PROTECT ppl!

  3. Dear Toshia, which isn’t even a real name lol. You are apart of the America that creates the problems. These people are not considered criminals according to the state or they wouldn’t be in mental hospitals. They need new diets, better care and more professional help than they are getting. What we put in our bodies means more than anything. This hospital should be bought out and re-staffed to suit the patients and their families needs. I have visited both Fort Logan and CMHIP on investigative reporting and I will say this… They are not comfortable. They are not safe places. The staff is clueless 90% of the time and they will never get better under the circumstances they operate under. The staff is being held accountable for what happens on their watch and nothing more. This is fair. My brother died of neglect at a non profit boys and girls club. Neglect is not okay under any circumstance. Prison or mental hospital… The staff is paid to do a professional job. When people die under their care they should expect repercussions. These places shouldn’t even be in charge of pther loves. Period.

  4. It is a lunatic asylum where you can get locked up without a trial where the inmates , the patient prisoners and the staff are so similar it is hard to tell who is who! They call it a hospital so they can charge you hospital prices! Kiss all your civil liberties goodbye and find your bootstraps fast before the staff destroys them!

  5. Would someone care to comment about whether the quality of care has changed or not over the last 8 years since this article was originally published?

  6. Reading this post and comments made me sad. I am an RN and have been working in a hospital on a Med/Surg unit. I recently accepted a position at CMHIP because I felt called to be there. I haven’t started yet but have already given notice at my hospital job. Being a nurse is about compassion and an oath to care for all who are ill, whether it be physical or mental. Most of these comments make it sound like there is nothing good about this place. I pray that things have changed drastically since this was written, or that God will allow me to be a part of the change that needs to happen.

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