Universal Health Services behavioral health facilities: Profits Over Patients continues
June 2, 2011
In 2009, Citizens Commission on Human Rights issued the report "Universal Health Services: Profits Over Patients," containing information on three then-recent teen deaths in UHS facilities, as well as reports of abuses, crimes, lawsuits and investigations involving UHS facilities going back to 1991. Until recently, the most visible UHS news was how the company had paid more than $3 billion in November 2010 to acquire the 126 psychiatric facilities owned by Psychiatric Solutions, Inc.
But in April 2011 news started to appear about violence and investigations in UHS behavioral health facilities in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia:
- On April 25, 2011, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) placed all three of UHS’ The Pines Children’s Residential Facilities on provisional licenses for six months. Provisional licenses are issued to health care facilities when corrective measures have been ordered. Failure to make the necessary corrections could result in the state revoking The Pines’ licenses. The state also froze all admissions to the facilities until such time as the facilities can provide evidence of sufficient improvement of a number of safety and treatment issues. This action occurred after state investigators determined that The Pines filed to report and document an allegation of sexual abuse at one of its facilities.
- On May 11, 2011, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Health Service Regulation issued a Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction to UHS’ Old Vineyard Youth Services after state investigators found evidence of approximately 15 instances of improper sexual contact between two male residents (ages 14 and 17) of the facility and accompanying staff failure to properly monitor and detect the abuse.
- On October 25, 2010, The Keys of Carolina paid a $26,500 penalty to the state of North Carolina to settle an investigation which began with the report of a 15-year-old Keys resident who was stabbed in the eye with a nail by another resident. The attacked occurred after one of the residents gossiped about the other having been raped as a child—information he’d gathered from the other resident’s records, which had been left unattended by Keys staff. The Keys failed to report the incident to the state, as required. Further investigation uncovered additional (but unfortunately, not uncommon in the psychiatric hospital world) problems including training deficiencies, use of improper restraint techniques and other incidents of violence.
Police were called to UHS’ Palmetto Behavioral Health facility in Summerville, South Carolina 128 times since February 2006, including 19 calls for missing persons and runaways, 42 reports of assaults and three reports of sexual assaults. In one incident, a 15-year-old resident was accused of attacking and beating a 64-year-old woman after he slipped away from the facility. She has filed a lawsuit against the facility, accusing it of gross negligence and recklessness.
- Police were called to UHS’ Palmetto Behavioral Health facility in North Charleston, South Carolina 98 times in the last five years, including 13 runaways and missing persons calls, 22 assault calls and six reports of sexual assault.
 “Universal Health Services facilities under scrutiny,” The Post and Courier, May 15, 2011and Memorandum of Agreement to The Pines Residential Treatment Center from Commissioner of Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, April 25, 2011.
 “Universal Health Services facilities under scrutiny,” The Post and Courier, May 15, 2011and Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction, Old Vineyard Youth Services, ID number MHH0188, North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation,April 29, 2010.
 “Universal Health Services facilities under scrutiny,” The Post and Courier, May 15, 2011and Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction, The Keys of Carolina, ID number MHL060-600, North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation, November 3, 2009.
 Glenn Smith, “Cops no stranger to Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health,” Post and Courier, May 15, 2011 and Summerville Police Law Incident Address History, by Date Reported, 2/12/06 to 4/21/11.
 Glenn Smith, “Cops no stranger to Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health,” Post and Courier, May 15, 2011 and Calls for service report of the North Charleston Police, 2/12/05 to 3/19/11.
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