- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - Texas health regulators have ordered the largest psychiatric hospital in Dallas to close because of safety problems that endanger patients, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The Department of State Health Services, in a Dec. 10 letter, told Timberlawn Mental Health System to surrender its license and pay a $1 million fine, according to documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/1L6C5K7 ).

State officials cited a patient’s 2014 suicide, violent fights among patients, dirty conditions and medical records issues at the 144-bed complex.

“The list of serious issues kept stacking up, and we had to draw the line,” said Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the Texas agency. “It’s rare that we get to this point with a hospital. Safety has to be paramount.”

During four visits last year, between February and July, state inspectors found other instances in which dangerous objects were left within reach of patients. During one visit, staff “could not account for the whereabouts” of at least six patients. Violence broke out among four patients, and a sexual encounter occurred between two others.

Universal Health Services Inc., which owns Timberlawn, says it’s made improvements at the 108-year-old campus, plus brought in new leadership and consultants. The company seeks to keep the hospital open and will make its case during an April 28 meeting.

The company views the regulatory process as an “opportunity to enhance our services, even if we may dispute or disagree with the findings,” according to a Universal Health statement.

Timberlawn is one of the few psychiatric hospitals in Dallas that accepts the poor and uninsured, according to the newspaper.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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