"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


  1. Giving the fact that the State of Virginia is giving The Pines a provisonal license that is good for six months.. Man a lot can go wrong in six months , just by what has been exposed in this story about the Pines and the incidents of a sexual nature involving children. I would hope that the State of Va. would demand that The Pines ,gets in order with in a month or loose their license . We are talikng about children and the permanant scaring that sex abuse causes.

    I would also hope that there is a nation wide investigation by the Attorney Generals office into the company Universal Health services , this company in my opinion should not be in the business of working with children. Especially if children under their care are being sexually abused by other children in their care and their inability to prevent and or document it. There needs to be an investigastion of this company on a national level. And I will be in touch with my states attorney general. this place (the pines ) needs to be closed.

  2. Thanks for your clarification...sadly, this kind of thing is happening all too often. And the most frequent victims are children. Privatized, for profit health care is destroying childhoods. Mass.' UHS-owned facilities and many others have been violating human rights wholesale despite State Law. It must stop, even if it takes the Department of Justice and many Attorneys General! Good Luck to you!

  3. Thank you for your work. Outstanding advocacy. One day when my mind becomes clearer...I hope to help.

    Much love from the midwest.

  4. My son is in a UHS owned facility in va. He went the first 18 days without being allowed to go outside. He was not put there for being a risk to himself or others. It seems like this is not right. I do not understand their behavior charts, it appears that staff just randomly put a bunch on numbers on them at the end of the day. I still have received a report on the reason he was restrained on his first day. I hope to get him moved but if it is against medical advise I will lose all his funding and will not be able to get him any help. Your thoughts are appreciated.

  5. @ 10-26 Anonoymous post: Grateful thanks!!!

    @12-3 Anonymous post: I'm so sorry to hear that your son is in this situation. Unfortunately, UHS has a long history of dubious and sometimes-abusive business practices.

    Have you consulted a lawyer about the situation? Every State has a federally-funded pro bono legal organization (called "Protection and Advocacy,)" which is charged with helping with diability/MI-related issues. Here's the info on VA's P&A:


    Address: Virginia Office for Protection & Advocacy
    1910 Byrd Avenue, Suite 5
    Richmond, VA 23230
    Phone: 804-225-2042 Voice/TDD \ 800-552-3962 (in VA only)
    Fax: 804-662-7057
    E-Mail: general.vopa@vopa.virginia.gov
    Website: http://www.vopa.state.va.us

    One other suggestion - I know an amazing advocate in VA who has been focused on UHS for years. If you'd like, I can connect you to her, as she's more experienced with UHS' VA operations. She's active on Facebook as well.

    There's an outside chance that I could connect you to someone in the media as well, but I'd have to check that out.

    I'll try to think of any additional things that may be able to be done, and I wish you and yours luck in this difficult situation.

    1. I would love that contact number. My child is at a uhc facility and her rights have been abused.

  6. Greetings Anonymous,

    Are you referring to the advocate in VA? Let me know and I will ask her.

    Thanks for reading and I'm sorry your child is being mistreated.

    Jonathan Dosick