Partially nude photo of patient found

June 23, 2009 5:51:22 PM PDT
Two employees from Central Regional Hospital in Butner are on paid leave while the state investigates an incident involving a partially nude photo. According to a hospital spokesperson, on June 17, someone gave a cell phone with a picture of a partially nude man on it to a hospital administrator.

The person in the picture is believed to have been a patient at the hospital. The photo was taken in November.

Vicki Smith - Executive Director with Disability Rights North Carolina - calls the photo exploitation and illegal.

"It's hard to understand how anyone who was charged with treating, caring for and providing therapeutic treatment to any individual in need could think that that was okay," she offered.

Butner Public Safety Director M.W. Hobgood told Eyewitness News Tuesday that "it is still under investigation."

Butner Public Safety seized the phone and is investigating with the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation.

Hospital director Michael Hennike sent the following memo to employees the day the cell phone was turned in:

"This message is intended to remind all employees regarding the prohibition of cell phone use in any patient care areas. The policy prohibits blue tooth use, camera feature use at any time in patient areas.

Nursing Policy does not permit cell phones, mobile phones, or pagers that are personal property to be carried during work hours or while performing patient care duties. Failure to follow this policy will result in disciplinary action.

Thank you for your compliance to this policy."

Luckey Welsh is in charge of the state's mental health facilities, including Central Regional.

"It did violate the privacy and dignity of this person and is something we regret," he told Eyewitness News. "It's an outrage and something that should never occur."

The hospital has been in the spotlight recently for alleged cases of abuse and sex between staff and inmates who worked at the hospital's Raleigh campus.

Earlier this year, a woman told Eyewitness News a hospital employee physically abused her 8-year-old son, who was a patient.

Click here for more about that story

Last year federal officials cited the hospital for being understaffed but allowed the new facility to open in Butner.

Click to read details about complaints from employees

And less than two months ago, the SBI began investigating reports of staff members at Central Regional's campus in Raleigh who allegedly had sex with female prison inmates who worked there as part of a labor program.

Click here to read about those allegations


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