Two high-ranking officials at Western State Hospital who have openly criticized the mental institution's policies and practices were termporarily suspended from their jobs earlier this week after accusing top hospital officials of patient abuse.
Hospital Social Services Director Brendan Buschi and Quality Assurance Director Gary Hardley charged that Western State administrators had been negligent in allowing newly admitted patients at the state-operated mental facility to be sent to a unit where homosexual assaults are commonplace. They and two of the unit's social workers submitted a writen complaint last month after a 22-year-old mentally retarded Northern Virginia man was sexually molested only an hour after being admitted to the unit.
Buschi was suspended without pay for five days for allegedly threatening to report Unit Director Colton for patient abuse if Colton refused to join in the complaint. Hardley was suspended without pay for three days for sending memos on the incident to the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union. Officials charged Hardley had violated patient confidentiality because a patient was named in one of the memos.
Buschi denied threatening Colton, who did not return a reporter's phone calls. Hardley acknowledged that he had inadvertently neglected to black out the patient's name, as he had done elsewhere in the memos he sent.
Both men contended they were suspended because of their public criticism of the troubled hospital's administration. Officials at Western State and the state Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation refused comment, saying the suspensions were a personnel matter.