EVEN SUPPORTERS OF UHS EXPANSION PLAN IN N.C. SOUND LESS THAN THRILLED

EVEN SUPPORTERS OF UHS EXPANSION PLAN IN N.C. SOUND LESS THAN THRILLED

(UPDATED) A troubled UHS behavioral facility in North Carolina that’s looking to add 60 beds got a less than rousing reception at a public hearing on its expansion plan.

UHS’s Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services in Winston-Salem is looking to build a $14 million addition by 2017. But opponents of the plan — including a healthcare advocate from UHS Behind Closed Doors — were on hand at Monday’s hearing to raise key questions about the facility.

Old Vineyard is one of the 21 UHS behavioral facilities under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for possibly illegal clinical practices.

“UHS is the nation’s biggest behavioral health provider, so they set the standards for quality,” UHS Behind Closed Doors healthcare advocate Aneeb Sharif told the Winston-Salem Journal. “Unfortunately, those standards are unacceptably low.”

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, a local opponent of the facility, Laurie Coker, said, “We’re violating the public’s trust if these beds are permitted and not properly used.”

State and federal regulators have found numerous problems with the existing facility. As Sharif noted in his remarks, “Health inspection reports dating back to at least 2009 reveal incidents of sexual assault and other egregious violations tied to inadequate staffing.”

Even the supporters of Old Vineyard’s expansion plan sounded less than enthused about it. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, “As speakers lent their support, they also stressed to state regulators…that they expect a higher level of quality for services if the expansion is granted.”

Perhaps the biggest drawback with the UHS expansion is that it appears unlikely to add any new psychiatric beds in North Carolina. As the Journal reported, Old Vineyard “would gain the beds from Broughton Hospital, a state hospital in Morganton.”

Click here for the full story on the hearing from the Winston-Salem Journal. The paper also wrote a preview piece about the hearing here.

UPDATE: The Winston Watchman, an indispensable local blog, has posted an article opposing the Old Vineyard expansion.