FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CR
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 1996                           (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES TO UPGRADE CONDITIONS AT FLORIDA
PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today filed suit
to improve conditions at an Arcadia, Florida state psychiatric
hospital that allegedly provided residents with substandard care.
     Last year, after receiving complaints, the Justice
Department began to examine conditions at the G. Pierce Wood
Memorial Hospital, under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized
Persons Act (CRIPA).  
     During the review, the Justice Department learned about the
care provided at the 450 person hospital through interviews with
former staff and patients, as well as reports by government and
private licensing agencies, such as the Florida Office of
Inspector General.  To date, the state has not permitted the
Justice Department to inspect conditions at the hospital or
review hospital documents.
     "As in all cases, we had hoped to resolve this matter short
of litigation," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
Deval L. Patrick.  "It now seems that court action is the only
way to protect patients at G. Pierce Wood."
     Today's suit asks U.S. District Court Judge Susan C. Bucklew
to allow the Justice Department to intervene in an on-going 1987
class action case.  It alleged that the hospital continues to
provide substandard care despite a 1989 agreement requiring the
state to improve its services.
     The suit seeks a court order requiring the state to: 
     protect patients from injuries and abuse and provide
     adequate care and treatment consistent with accepted
     professional standards;  

     identify and ensure adequate staff supervision of patients
     who need close supervision;

    assess patients to determine whether continued hospital-
    ization is necessary; and
     
    provide adequate after-care and follow-up services in the
     community once patients are discharged.

     Congress passed CRIPA in 1980 to protect the rights of
people housed in state and local government institutions,
including psychiatric hospitals. 
     "We hope today's action will bring the residents of G.
Pierce Wood the care and treatment they deserve and are entitled
to," added Patrick. 
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