Group Home Cited for Understaffing, Poor Patient Monitoring, & Lack of Abuse Reporting

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) cited Manatee Palms Group Homes for several residential treatment center violations following a complaint investigation. These include one violation in which the facility failed to follow protocol for implementing special school attendance precautions for patients placed under close observation. Hospital policy states that residents ordered to have close observation by their physician “will not be permitted to attend off campus activities or school in the community due to safety concerns.” Despite this directive, four patients were allowed to attend school in the community. One patient ended up being involved in a physical altercation at school and had to be placed in physical restraints and sent to the ER for injuries. An interview with the Group Homes Director revealed that she was unaware of this policy. AHCA also cited the facility for failing to provide physician ordered treatment. In one case, a patient who was ordered to be on close observation was able to run away from the facility through a backyard gate. Following the incident, no investigation into the incident was conducted. The facility was also cited by AHCA for failing to meet minimum staffing requirements, since the “facility failed to ensure that direct care staff did not divide their time on a shift between programs located in other areas of the facility or other buildings.” Following interviews the Director and the Chief Operating Officer (COO), it was revealed that about five to seven mental health technicians at the group home left to work at the Youth Academy (a public school located on the grounds of Manatee Palms Youth Services Hospital) during school hours. These staff members were considered day school staff and reported to the school’s principal during school hours; they then returned to the group home to resume their mental health technician duties and were paid by the group home during the entire shift. The COO added “They have a different job function, a different position that they are filling over there.” Separately, AHCA also cited the facility because it “failed to ensure that requirements for more intensive staffing were followed” for four patients placed on close observation by their physicians. The facility was also cited for failing to protect the rights of children by not reporting an alleged incident of abuse by staff and not providing immediate protection for alleged victims of abuse. The incident involved a staff member allegedly verbally antagonizing a child. Following the alleged incident, there was no documentation indicating that the staff member had been removed from the unit or that HR (Human Resources) had completed an investigation.