Norfolk behavioral health center didn’t follow regulations before fight, state says


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A state investigation into a March 31 fight at a behavioral health center in Norfolk that injured several staff members revealed regulations involving patient supervision weren’t followed.

The report listed four areas of concern and all of them were related to patient supervision, including improper supervision and not adhering to policy.

10 On Your Side spoke with a former staff member at Kempsville Behavioral Health Center, who said they’re not surprised by the findings.

Back in April, 10 On Your Side told you how patients collaborated to carry out a disturbance at the facility.

The incident left staff members injured and police responded to the health center.

According to the report by the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the patient who started the incident was supposed to be within arm’s length of a designated staff member at all times. Video evidence and the center’s documentation showed that didn’t happen.

The report also found patient observation policies were not adhered to as written.

“We would bring issues like this to management and to HR and they would say ‘oh we’ll handle it.’” the staff member said.

This former staff member was employed at the health center when the assault happened, but wasn’t at work on that day. Still, they said that incident paired with continued concerns over alleged staff shortages was the final straw, so they left.

“I really felt like my safety was at jeopardy,” they said.

In a statement, health center CEO Jaime Fernandez said “We are cooperating fully with the state to resolve the findings. We responded to the concerns and appropriate training was completed as a routine part of corrective action. We are currently in compliance. “

However the staff member said the training was minimal.

“We were given a piece of paper to skim through and sign, and that took about two minutes,” they said. “The paper talked about rounds, completing rounds every 15 minutes and it talked about ‘being on time’ policy.”

According to the state’s report, training for some of those policies is done annually.

The health center CEO said the Kempsville Center remains committed to their mission of providing high-quality, safe care to their patients.

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