Alaska News

API director, other top state health officials resign in wake of critical report

The chief executive of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, a deputy state health commissioner and another high-ranking official in Alaska's state health department have resigned following the release of a report showing the state-run psychiatric hospital is unsafe for employees.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Social Services said the three officials no longer worked for the state as of Friday afternoon. Asked if the employees were fired or asked to resign, the spokeswoman, Katie Marquette, said they offered their resignations and declined to elaborate, citing personnel confidentiality rules.

[Support local journalism: Subscribe to the Anchorage Daily News here]

API Chief Executive Ron Hale has been replaced by Duane Mayes, who was overseeing the health department division of senior and disabilities, according to the state.

Karen Forrest, a deputy health commissioner, and Randall Burns, the director of the state's division of behavioral health, also resigned this week, Marquette said.

Burns oversaw Hale at API. Forrest oversaw Burns.

On Wednesday, state officials unveiled a report that concluded API was an "unduly unsafe" workplace, building on several years of other investigations with similar findings. The report, a state-commissioned investigation by Anchorage attorney Bill Evans, pointed to internal divides among staff over the use of restraint against violent patients, as well as ineffective scheduling practices and other problems.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Katie Marquette as a spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Walker. She is the communications director for the Department of Health and Social Services. 

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.