State slams Manatee Palms psychiatric hospital

Agency: Psychiatric hospital unsafe, poorly managed

twolfrum@bradenton.comMay 6, 2010 

MANATEE — The state of Florida has barred a Manatee County psychiatric hospital for young people from accepting new admissions after an investigation found unsafe conditions and “a variety of failures” in administrative procedures.

The Agency for Health Care Administration executed an emergency order of moratorium for Manatee Palms Youth Services, 4480 51st St. W., on April 16, according to state records. The order prohibits Manatee Palms from accepting new patients or readmitting previous patients.

The moratorium stems from complaint investigations AHCA filed on Feb. 25 and March 4 concerning patient care and safety at Manatee Palms. On two occasions, patients complaining of injuries that turned out to be fractured bones, were forced to wait several hours before diagnosis and treatment. Another patient with a history of self-injury cut himself or herself with glass during a game of kickball in the gymnasium.

Agency investigators later visited the hospital and found corrective actions proposed by Manatee Palms had not been taken, the order said.

“The Respondent’s Facility currently suffers from substandard conditions and deficient practices with respect to its operating standards and program standards that are severe enough that they pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of the Facility’s clients,” the order read.

Manatee Palms is a 60-bed psychiatric treatment facility that accepts children and adolescents ages 6 to 17. It is classified as a specialty hospital by the state. Its state license expires Aug. 6, according to the AHCA website.

Kim Smoak, a field operations supervisor at AHCA, said Manatee Palms submitted a plan of correction Monday. The agency will review the plan and, if it’s approved, monitor its implementation, she said.

Smoak said there is no timetable for the moratorium to be lifted, and that Manatee Palms can continue to treat its current patient population under monitoring by AHCA staff.

Manatee Palms Chief Executive Officer Jeff Turiczek did not return a message left for him Wednesday. Brian Fulton, a spokesman for Manatee Palms’ parent company, Psychiatric Solutions Inc., issued a statement.

“Manatee Palms Youth Services is committed to providing the highest quality care to our patients in a safe environment,” the statement said. “We are cooperating fully with the state of Florida and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration in order to continue to meet and exceed the quality standards our patients and community expect from us.”

It is not clear whether the moratorium will affect the opening of Manatee Palms’ new therapeutic group homes at 1324 37th Ave. E. The first two of five 12-bed homes were scheduled to open later this month, pending licensing from the state fire marshal and AHCA. Neither Smoak nor Fulton would comment on the group homes’ status.

AHCA investigated Manatee Palms’ hospital facility after receiving the following complaints, according to state records:

n On Feb. 10, a patient with an “impulsivity/self harm” diagnosis cut himself or herself six times with a piece of broken light bulb during a game of kickball in the facility’s gymnasium despite a hospital policy that required a staff member to be “within arm’s length” of such patients at all times. The cuts were not considered serious.

n On Feb. 16, a patient was placed in physical restraints from 7:26 p.m. to 7:29 p.m. after an altercation with staff members. The patient complained of shoulder pain at 9:30 p.m. but wasn’t seen by a physician until 9:50 a.m. the next day. The patient was diagnosed with a fracture of the left clavicle.

n On Feb. 20, a patient complained of wrist pain after an altercation with another patient and a staff member at 10:05 a.m. A physician ordered an X-ray at about 10:30 a.m., but no X-ray was taken until 7 p.m. The X-ray showed fractures to the patient’s radius and ulna.

AHCA cited Manatee Palms in all three instances and gave the hospital 10 days to make corrective actions to its policies.

But between March 1 and April 13, the state found 14 incidents that involved issues addressed in the previous citations. Nine of those incidents had not been investigated or addressed according to Manatee Palms policy or state law, according to the moratorium order.

“The deficiencies here are widespread, involve a number of clients that occurred over a period of time, and involve a variety of failures,” the order said.

On May 4, 2007, AHCA placed a moratorium on new admissions at Manatee Palms and temporarily suspended its license because of similar issues. The state and Manatee Palms administration later came to a settlement agreement, and the suspension and moratorium were lifted on Nov. 9, 2007. Manatee Palms paid a $12,000 fine as part of the settlement, according to state records.

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