"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

- United States Declaration of Independence

Monday, May 2, 2011

State Watch:

The Pines in Virginia, a youth behavioral health program, is infamous for systemic rights violations. The following is a recent account of problems at the Pines, which is owned by the hospital conglomerate Universal Health Services, Inc., which runs over 200 facilities across the country, and has a truly dismal reputation nationwide.

Va suspends admissions at youth home
DENA POTTER, Associated Press

Monday, April 25, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The state has suspended admissions and downgraded the license of a Norfolk-based owner of treatment centers for troubled youth after a series of violations that included the mishandling of a sexual abuse complaint, authorities announced Monday.

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services on Monday issued a provisional license for the three homes operated by The Pines Residential Treatment Center, agency spokeswoman Meghan McGuire said. The department gave the company six months to address staffing, reporting and other concerns.

A message left with The Pines' administrative office was not immediately returned.

The downgrade is a step toward removing a company's license. While it doesn't preclude the company from receiving state Medicaid funding, "a provisional license is a red flag" for private payers or other states that may house children there, McGuire said.

North Carolina officials said last week they were considering pulling 113 residents from the centers after finding the owner did not report a boy's claims that he was inappropriately touched by two residents at one of the centers. An investigation by Virginia department officials determined the center had failed to properly document the incident or to notify the state or the child's parents.

According to the investigation report, the boy claims he was inappropriately touched by two different residents and flashed by a roommate at the Norfolk center. The boy was admitted to the center on Nov. 2. His parents removed him from the home on Jan. 31, days after they were notified.

Renee McCoy, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday the agency was evaluating a number of options, including finding alternative placement for the children. It has suspended sending new youth to the homes.

McGuire said that incident was not the cause for Monday's action, but "the result of ongoing performance issues that must be corrected to ensure safety and effective treatment for the troubled children there."

"Over the past several years, (the department) has encountered significant problems at the Pines' facilities that have required tremendous monitoring time by our licensing and human rights staff," she said. "The licensing office has had continuous concerns surrounding treatment planning, training of staff, and supervision at the Pines."

Since 2006, there have been 152 investigations among the three centers ranging from minor complaints like staff not returning phone calls in a timely manner to more complicated matters such as the North Carolina sexual assault allegation, McGuire said.

The state is freezing admissions to the company's three Hampton Roads-area facilities "until there is evidence of improvement surrounding" the outlined concerns. Those include:

—Making sure there are adequate programs and staffing, especially for juveniles who come to the centers from the courts.

—Hiring qualified staff and getting them required training.

—Reducing staff overtime.

—Adjusting staff ratios to have one staff person for every four residents, or one for every three residents in units that require more intense supervision.

—Clarifying who is in charge of each unit and ensure nurses are available.

—Implementing a plan that ensures all therapists meet licensing qualifications and are supervised, and making sure there is one therapist for every 10 residents.

—Improving the treatment planning process, including better documenting progress.

—Reporting all incidents, including a monthly analysis of incidents.

McGuire said department officials met with the executive team at The Pines on Friday and advised them of what would happen. She said they were cooperative and agreed "without objection" to work on the issues.

"Because residential placement options for troubled children are limited, we want to see this plan succeed and result in an improved environment and better care for children at The Pines," McGuire said, adding that the department will continue "intensely monitoring" the centers.

According to its website, The Pines opened in 1986 to "provide focused intermediate and long-term care" to youth with mental, emotional and behavioral problems. It is licensed to provide care for 424 youth at its three centers in Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Read more: http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/APNewsBreak-Va-suspends-admissions-at-youth-home-1351477.php#ixzz1LE3ar72k

And, prison inmates are given fresh air under law...but not psych inpatients!

With the coming of Spring, having grown weary of the cold and staying inside, we reawaken to the benefits of nature. But hundreds of peers in Massachusetts are still forcibly kept indoors, in sterile hospital units and residences. They can only look outside and yearn for fresh air - at thirty hospitals, and at group homes.

In addition to restraint, lack of informed consent and widespread violation of basic rights, denial of the essential healing gift of fresh air is another collective insult we face.

My last mass email on the subject featured a Federal law that guarantees fresh air to livestock.

Now, here are some State regulations regarding prisons:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Department of Correction
Regulation 103 DOC 472

Section 472.02: Inmate Access to Recreational Programs and Leisure Activities

1. General - It is the department's policy to provide inmates within its custody equal access to recreational and leisure time opportunities and equipment, including, when weather permits, outdoor exercise.

3. Program Access for Inmates in a Department Disciplinary or Special Management Unit [i.e., Maximum/Supermax settings] - All inmates in such units shall receive a minimum of one hour per day, five days per week of exercise outside their cells.

So – organic livestock and prison inmates are protected the law. Peers are protected by neither…

PLEASE NOTE: I am not, in any way, suggesting that animals and prison inmates shouldn’t enjoy basic civil rights. Additionally, I regret any possible (but erroneous) implication that prison inmates are in any way ‘animals’ or ‘animalistic.’ Rather, I am illustrating the fact that while animals are seen as ‘less worthy’ of rights - and prison inmates are jailed for “corrective” purposes, they still have MORE rights than us. This begs the question: what does this say about how society sees us? It sends a message that we are seen as “less than,” and less deserving of rights than those society deems worthy of harsh punishment for their actions!

Also, the ‘purpose’ of psychiatric hospitalization is intended to be therapeutic, even despite the reality that it usually isn’t. Neither farms nor prisons are designed with that same intention. So why is a ‘therapeutic’ environment actually becoming more restrictive than ANY other? And what heals better, with no side effects and very little cost, than nature?

As we enjoy the blossoms and fragrances of Spring, let’s think of our peers who are needlessly kept from it, and continue working hard to put an end to this practice!