Legislature gets an earful on Anoka Treatment Center problems

The situation at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center is so bad, Medicare threatened to cut off $3.5 million dollars in funding. 55 hospital staff members were injured last year alone. Jackie Spanjers was a nurse there for 20 years, until she was hurt too.

“The state is mixing criminals with vulnerable adults,” Spanjers said.

It's become a depressing shell game, where the mentally ill are shuffled between jail, hospitals and Anoka Metro, the ultimate safety net for those with acute psychotic symptoms, where patients cost taxpayers $1,300 a day.

FOX 9 INVESTIGATORS - Violent criminals mixed with mentally ill patients at Anoka Treatment Center

It got worse two years ago, after the legislature passed the so-called “48 hour rule,” requiring jail inmates who aren't competent to face criminal charges to be moved to psychiatric facility within two days. It's led to more violent and criminal patients at Anoka and a backlog at hospitals across Minnesota.

The state health and human services commissioner told lawmakers of her plan to move patients to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, and increase the number of beds, but even the commissioner admits it’s a Band-Aid.

“This is really a crisis plan, but not permanent solution to the problem we have in Minnesota,” said Emily Johnson-Piper.