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State Health Services To Reevaluate Hiring Practices Amid Scandals

Photo by National Register of Historic Places

A state hospital psychiatrist has been fired for violating terms of a settlement he had reached with the Department of State Health Services. Alejandro Munoz was hired at Terrell State Hospital – thirty miles east of Dallas – in 2006. This despite the fact that he had signed an agreement in 1998 stating that he would not again seek employment at a state-run hospital after he was fired from a facility just northwest of Fort Worth. Carrie Williams, spokesperson for the Department of State Health Services, says the recent firing has led to some reevaluation at the department.

"We are going through our processes with a fine-tooth comb, and trying to really scrutinize the way we do things, given the situation. You know, settlement agreements barring someone from seeking employment with us are just not that common, but it's something we should have caught on the way. We should have picked up on the history and that's definitely what we're looking at."

That wasn't the only discrepancy on Munoz's record. Williams confirmed that State Health Services knew about sexual abuse in Munoz's past and hired him anyway.

"When we hired him, we were aware of the abuse confirmation, though we didn't have the details at the time. And we should have. Our practice is not to hire people with sexual abuse confirmation in their record. It's something that we missed. Again, we're going through our hiring processes and making sure that these things do not go unchecked in the future.”

The State Health Services department employs 12,000 people. Williams couldn't give a timetable of how quickly the department's hiring practices would be altered.

The firing of Munoz is the latest troubling disclosure from the Department of State Health Services. The Austin American-Statesman first reported that former Austin State Hospital psychiatrist Charles Fischer had sexually abused two of his patients.