NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A mental health facility that was recently investigated by the state in connection to the death of a 17-year-old girl is under investigation again — this time by the Newport News Police Department.
Child Protective Services reported to police that a juvenile male was assaulted by an employee at the Newport News Behavioral Center on Nov. 13. The NNBHC is a residential mental health facility that provides juveniles with services like therapy and substance abuse treatment.
During the assault, the employee allegedly punched the juvenile “about the face,” pushed him, and grabbed him. The juvenile told CPS that other NNBHC employees tried to intervene during the assault, and a staffer treated him for injuries. A CPS worker noted that the juvenile had bruising on his face, as well as marks on his neck and one of his arms, according to court documents.
The employee hasn’t been charged in connection to the alleged assault; however, he was suspended from his job at the NNBHC, court documents state.
Police confirmed they are actively investigating the allegation. A detective filed a search warrant on Nov. 20 for the juvenile’s medical records, surveillance footage of the alleged assault, and the employee’s work records.
10 On Your Side contacted NNBHC Chief Executive Officer Paul Kirkham via email. Kirkham sent the following statement:
The care and safety of our patients is our top priority. Due to HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot disclose information about patients. We can share, however, that it is our facility’s policy and practice to follow appropriate investigation protocols in the event of any allegations of inappropriate conduct involving a patient or staff member.
Upon notification of the allegation, Newport News Behavioral Health Center immediately placed the staff member on administrative leave per policy, pending completion of the investigation. Our internal investigation has not substantiated these allegations.
Newport News Behavioral Health Center is a secure 108-bed residential treatment facility serving adolescents ages 11 to 18. We are committed to our mission of treating patients with special, and often complex, mental health needs.
The NNBHC was recently under investigation by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services after 17-year-old Raven Keffer died while in their care.
Raven had only been at the facility for eight days when she was taken to Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital where she died hours later on June 29.
10 On Your Side spoke with a mental health technician who was involved in Raven’s care. That technician said that NNBHC nurses ignored Raven’s pleas for help, even after she started throwing up blood, because they thought the teenager was trying to get pain medication.
The technician also said that it wasn’t a nurse who called first responders, but another juvenile resident at the NNBHC — a claim that 10 On Your Side verified by obtaining a copy of the 911 call.
A state report cited the NNBHC with violating more than a dozen standards of care, including depriving Raven of appropriate services and treatment, failing to document her significant medical concerns, and failing to note her health complaints.
The behavioral health center entered into a corrective action plan with the DBHDS to address the violations.
“DBHDS has conducted unannounced inspections to verify NNBH’s compliance with the corrective action plan,” said spokeswoman Maria Reppas, adding that the agency will “continue to monitor the steps” that the behavioral health center is taking to address the violations.
Reppas confirmed on Friday that the DBHDS is investigating the Nov. 14 assault allegation.