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Blunt Orders Changes in Mental Health Care

By Kelley Weiss

Kansas City, MO – In the last five years more than 20 mental health patients living in Missouri group homes died from abuse or neglect. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt is asking the state to do more to prevent this from happening again. KCUR's Kelley Weiss reports.

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Governor Blunt issued an executive order with several directives for the Missouri Department of Mental Health. It requires the state to report all deaths in group homes for the developmentally disabled to the police and local medical examiner. The state will use a new database to track misconduct and has to give the Governor an annual report detailing implemented changes.

Bob Bax, Mental Health Department spokesperson, says the Governor's executive order gives the state needed guidelines to protect patients.

Bob Bax: "A number of these systems that have come out are to really improve that system of preventing, reporting and investigating abuse and neglect."

A Missouri Mental Health Task Force presented recommendations to the governor to improve care after 21 patients died from abuse or neglect. Bax says the state is making another change -- now family members will be informed if developmentally disabled, registered sex offenders live in communities for the mentally disabled.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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