CHAMPAIGN – The death of a 12-year-old Bloomington boy who tried to hang himself at The Pavilion has prompted an investigation into whether there was neglect on the part of caregivers at the Champaign psychiatric hospital.
Jill Manuel, deputy director for communications with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said the agency is investigating circumstances surrounding the death of Ronald Hamilton, a patient in the hospital portion of the Pavilion when he attempted to hang himself on Aug. 11.
Ronald died Aug. 15 from complications stemming from asphyxiation, Champaign County Coroner Roger Swaney said. An inquest will be conducted, likely in October, Swaney said.
Manuel said the boy was on a suicide watch in the Pavilion's hospital unit when he strangled himself with bed linen.
"We're investigating the staff members who were caring for the boy and whether they did everything they could to prevent this," Manuel said. "We're talking to everyone who had involvement with him, what state he was in, how frequently he was being monitored, the level of suicide risk, basically everything from the beginning of his stay."
Pavilion spokesperson Chris Bruns said the institution would not comment on the specific case, nor on monitoring procedures involving patients on suicide watches.
"The Pavilion does not have a comment on that story," Bruns said.
The Pavilion is a private hospital with residential and partial hospitalization services for adults and adolescents with psychiatric illness or addictive disorders. It began in 1988 as the Carle Pavilion in the former Cole Hospital building. It was sold in 1995 to Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services, one of the largest hospital management companies in the country.
Champaign police detectives are also involved in the investigation, Deputy Police Chief Troy Daniels said.
"This is an absolutely heartbreaking case," Daniels said. "Any time a 12-year-old thinks he has to take his own life is just devastating to all concerned."
Manuel said the severest penalty that could be imposed by DCFS is that one or more employees might lose their jobs. The inquiry is complicated by the fact that DCFS licenses the residential portion of the Pavilion, but not the hospital portion where the incident occurred.
Ronald had been placed at the Pavilion after displaying aggressive behavior at his foster home in Ivesdale. There has been no indication of wrongdoing on the part of the foster home, Manuel said. Ronald had been sent from the foster home to the Pavilion for an evaluation in July after he had lashed out at his brother. He was sent back to Ivesdale, then returned to the Pavilion again in August.
"He seemed to need to go back. I can't tell you specifically what he did," Manuel said.
Ronald and his 10-year-old brother were removed from their Bloomington home in June as a result of domestic violence there, she said.
You can reach Phil Bloomer at (217) 351-5371 or via e-mail at email@example.com.