A CLOSER LOOK: Piney Ridge Treatment Center complaints

A Closer Look

Approx. 9 complaints received in 2020, 7 unfounded, 1 now closed

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Piney Ridge Treatment Center (PRTC) in Fayetteville has had several licensing complaints since the beginning of 2020, according to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

About nine complaints have been received by the Placement and Residential Licensing Unit (PRLU) since January 2020. Seven complaints are unfounded licensing complaints and one was a founded complaint.

SINCE JANUARY 2020 PRLU COMPLAINTS RECEIVED, PER DHS

  • Staff/child ratio
  • Lack of supervision
  • Uncleanliness of the building
  • Insect infestation
  • Sexual contact between children in the Annex/quarantine area
  • Misuse of restraints

FOUNDED LICENSING COMPLAINT, PER DHS

  • No hand soap/paper towels available for the children
  • Staff person made racially derogatory comments regarding the children.

On the “founded licensing complaint” there is a Corrective Action (CA) in place until October 2020 to address the issues, per DHS.

Sixteen visits have been made by the PRLU from January 2020 to now. the Licensing Specialists are required to check-out and monitor the residential facilities once per quarter. For now, Licensing Specialists are monitoring Piney Ridge on a weekly basis.

“The increased visits have been unannounced monitor visits that have occurred despite the current pandemic.  Monitor visits have been conducted on various days of the week and at different times of the day. During these monitoring visits, buildings and grounds have been surveyed and staff and children have been interviewed.”

DHS

Regarding the most recent “founded complaint,” Licensing was on-site at PRTC on October 5, regarding the complaints received the weekend prior (in late September). Below is a summary of the visit:

  • The facility appeared to have adequate staffing for the weekend based on the licensing staff’s review of the staffing records. Licensing staff did get a list and contact information for staff on duty Friday and Saturday night and will be contacting all to discuss.   Licensing staff reviewed the video footage.  The facility staff appeared to have responded appropriately.  No restraints or seclusions were cited during the events.   
  • Additional complaints came on September 26th. Staff went out Thursday, October, 1st.  Ratios were in compliance according to documentation and staff interviewed. The staff viewed the annex/quarantine area and advised during the visit to address supervision which PR cooperated and agreed to.  This agency is under a CA with DCCECE/Residential Licensing until October 31, 2020, which means frequent unannounced visits. (DCCECE =  Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education).    

As of mid-December 2019, PRTC was placed on a six-month corrective action agreement with the DCCECE, according to DHS.

“The facility has been in the process of upgrading their physical facility during this same timeframe,” according to DHS Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer Amy Webb.

As of July 2020, the Chief Executive Officer is Brad McDaris and DHS said, “since that time, the atmosphere and physical environment has improved.”

Per DHS, McDaris has a goal of changing the cultural climate of Piney Ridge with Licensing.

“Piney Ridge Treatment Center is generally in compliance and when there are any identified issues they make those corrections in a timely manner.”

DHS

PRTC has a capacity for 97 residents. Its initial license (type: Psychiatric Residential; Sexual Rehabilitative) was issued on April 1, 1996. The owner is Acadia Healthcare Inc. of Franklin, Tennessee.

1 EMPLOYEE EXPRESSED CONCERNS WITH MANAGEMENT — SHE’S BEEN TERMINATED

A Piney Ridge Treatment Center employee emailed the CEO with specific concerns:

  • Packing the facility as full as possible when there is a lack of therapists.
  • Children are often unbathed and in filthy clothes.
  • The kitchen/cafeteria is often dirty.

“He [CEO] explained he always has had an open-door policy and asked me to make an appointment with him about my concerns upon getting my email,” said the now terminated employee.

“Instead of meeting with me I was sent to HR [human resources] to voice my concerns,” she said. “Then I emailed him and the therapists about meeting with HR.”

“Later the same day, HR came to my office and told me, ‘you are done … pack your office,'” said the former employee.

The employee, who asked for her name to be withheld, said she was fired for gross insubordination.

KNWA/FOX24 reached out to PRTC regarding the termination, but a response was not given.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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