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.
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