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State report: NN Behavioral Health Center failed to provide adequate care for teen who died

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side continues its investigation into the death of Raven Keffer right after her stay at Newport News Behavioral Health Center. 

A newly-released state report cites the center for violating more than a dozen standards of care. 

10 On Your Side also spoke with a mental heath technician who was involved in Raven’s care. That source spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the case, and has a shocking account of what was and wasn’t done for Raven in the days leading to her death.

“She suffered in every way in my opinion, physically, mentally, and emotionally,” the source said.

A state report 10 On Your Side received over the weekend aligns with what the tech said.

It says the NNBHC failed to comply with 13 different regulations in the case of Raven Keffer.

The 17-year-old had just spent eight days there, hours before her death at a hospital June 29.

The employee says the center’s nurses dismissed Raven’s pleas from the time she arrived.

“She wanted to go to the hospital and they said she’s [expletive] faking, there’s nothing wrong with her. I said she’s saying she’s throwing up blood.”

The employee says the nurses were dismissive of Raven because they thought she was just trying to get pain meds, and her family members are furious.

“The people that ignored her plea for help, they should be liable,” said Theresa Duncan, Raven’s great aunt.

The report from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services cites the Newport News Center for depriving Raven of appropriate services and treatment, for failing to document her significant medical concerns, and failing to note her health complaints, and ten other areas of non-compliance.

The employee says Raven’s condition worsened to the point where she needed help walking.

“She would fall over on to the wall and then just brace herself on the wall to walk. The nurses would roll their eyes and again say she was faking.

The day Raven later died, her pleas for medical help got more urgent, but the technician says nurses were not calling 911. 

Even another young resident noticed that Raven’s condition was dire, according to our source.

“The other kid actually started screaming that (Raven’s) pupils were dilated and y’all need to call 911, and I told the nurse again you need to call 911.”

Raven had virtually no vital signs, and she began to urinate on herself. 

“And I told the nurse  that she needed to call 911.”

A nurse agreed to get Raven to the hospital, but only on one condition, the source says.

“She needed to get up and change her clothes first.” 

“It’s like poor nursing to me. What would it matter if she was soiled, if she was doing that to herself then she really had to be something wrong,” Duncan said. 

The source says at that point, another nurse intervened, and “stepped over top of her like she was a dead dog, and said move, watch this, I got this [expletive].

The health tech says that second nurse then broke open two ammonia packs.

“They were still saying she was faking. If she was faking and you put an ammonia pack under somebody’s nose then immediately there’s a response. There was nothing.”

According to the employee, the vitally needed 911 call was finally made, but not by a member of the staff.

“One of the kids on the unit had gotten the cordless phone and they were on the phone with 911.”

Court records show that Newport News firefighters arrived about 6:30 that evening, June 29,  and transported Raven to a hospital. By 10:30, Raven was dead.

“It’s not that I haven’t watched people die. I’ve seen multiple people die,” the source said.  “It’s the fact that this kid sat there for five days begging us to help her, which is what we’re supposed to do. Instead of listening to her, we were forced to believe that she was just a drug addict.”

“If she was in the hospital, at least she could have been comforted,” said Raven’s great aunt. “(They could have) done something to help her, not just let her lay there and suffer and die like that.”

Paul Kirkham, CEO of the Newport News Behavioral Health Center, says he could not comment on specifics, citing HIPAA privacy laws, but gave this response Monday afternoon:

“We have received the report from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and are currently reviewing for accuracy. We will continue to fully cooperate with this investigation.”

The cause of death for Raven Keffer remains undetermined.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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