Newport News had 1 staff member for the entire children's unit for 45 seconds while a resident choked him/her self with game cord

Newport News Behavioral Health Center was cited by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) for deficiencies related to willful and gross negligence, staffing ratios, and adherence to policies and procedures around patient supervision and crisis stabilization.

DBHDS found that the facility engaged in willful and gross negligence that jeopardized residents. DBHDS determined that a “staff member struck a client during an altercation on a facility unit. It [was] determined that surrounding staff members did not take appropriate action to immediately separate the staff member from the child nor was it reported immediately to the unit supervisor.”

DBHDS also cited the facility for not having at least a 1:8 staffing ratio at all times. DBHDS reviewed facility video footage that showed:

“Only one staff on a facility unit for a period of 45 seconds, During this time, a client engaged in self-harming behavior (wrapping a game cord around neck).”

DBHDS also found facility violations with supervision policies and procedures and noted that the “provider [was] non-compliant with standard as evidenced by staff failure to follow facility policy on supervision of children. Incidents as a result include: 1. Self-harming behavioral exhibited by a client [and] 2. Allegations of inappropriate sexual interaction between two clients.”

The facility was also found non-compliant with policies and procedures for crisis stabilization. DBHDS noted evidence of “a failure of staff to adhere to provider policy regarding the reporting of serious incidents/clinical emergency.” DBHDS found that a “client engaged in self-harming behavior in a cool down room on the unit and staff members failed to communicate with nursing staff regarding behavior to allow for nursing assessment of client for safety.”

The Investigation Findings Report did not include a plan of correction or actions to be taken by the facility.