- Associated Press - Friday, May 15, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Department of Health Services is investigating concerns about patient safety at the State Hospital and put at least two staff members on administrative leave, authorities said Friday.

Colby Bower will be the new assistant director of licensing, while Dr. Aaron Bowen will be the hospital’s interim CEO, department officials said.

Bower’s position was previously held by Dr. Cara Christ, who was appointed Wednesday as the Department of Health Services’ director by Gov. Doug Ducey.

Hospital CEO Donna Noriega has been put on leave along with two other high-ranking Department of Health Services officials - Cory Nelson, deputy director for behavioral health services, and Jeff Bloomberg, who heads the department’s office of administrative counsel and rules, department spokeswoman Laura Oxley said.

The state hospital treats people with mental illnesses.

KNXV-TV reported Thursday that the hospital allegedly didn’t protect patients from sex abuse, there was no internal investigation or reporting to outside authorities and the state withheld public records and only released documents after a court order.

The investigation was called for by the Christ after she was briefed on the state hospital, pending questions and records requests from KNXV and other issues, Oxley said. “The people tied to the areas of concern are routinely put on administrative leave when there’s an investigation,” she said.

The department plans to retain an outside entity to lead the hospital investigation, Christ said.

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