From: Kirsten Darby, Director of Communications, Just Future Project
Date: November 18, 2019 at 6:41:06 PM EST
To: Keith Davies, Healthcare Compliance Manager, Office of the State Inspector General
Cc: Michael Schaefer, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Facility Services and Assistant Commissioner of Forensic Services, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services (DBHDS)
Cc: Mira Signer, Chief Deputy Commissioner for Community Behavioral Health, DBHDS
Cc: Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia
Reply-To: Kirsten Darby
Specific concerns from VCBR residents outside of the realm of the variances to human rights: (I realize I have previously voiced some of these concerns but they have been repeated to me directly from residents.)
1. A memo was posted last week informing residents that a security breech by staff who had access to observation notes had been noted. The next paragraph discussed that due to the breech of protective health information, corrective actions had been taken. First, observation notes and medical records are completely different documents, and secondly, what corrective actions have been taken? I called the number provided for Sanita Rhodes, the facility privacy officer and have yet to hear back.
2. A resident was forced to eat alone as a disciplinary measure for 18 days and received only cold meals for the duration. He sat behind a glass window while eating in full view of other residents.
3. There is no variance/exemption allowing VCBR to use an inmate (GTL) phone or email system charging residents for use. Calls and emails can be monitored in accordance to the variance without charges. Other DBHDS facilities house “violent” offenders, but those residents are not charged to use the telephone. Furthermore, if residents spend their money on phone calls, which is imperative to positive mental health treatment, they can be held back in treatment phases for not meeting financial goals.
4. Limits are placed on the amount of hygeine/ food items ordered from outside vendors, but when ordered from inmate/state vendors or the market store in the facility, no limits are implemented costing the residents much more which again is used against them for not meeting financial goals.
5. A resident was moved back a phase by the unit manager, not his therapist, for not reporting an assault against him personally. His assailant remained in the living area throughout the day and his victim did not feel safe to report the crime until the assailant was removed from the area. He was punished for being a victim!
6. Incoming and outgoing mail is being opened without the residents present, and contents are being used against them without an opportunity for explanation.
7. Although double-bunking has been approved for the facility, there is no legitimate mental health protocol for allowing residents to be double-bunked in a cell like room with DOC issued furniture and supplies. Double bunking certainly does not promote safety and security for residents or the staff.
8. Staff with little training or education are leading groups and/or making decisions as to which phase of treatment residents are promoted or demoted into. The lives and future of residents are based on the opinions or thoughts of those untrained in the treatment of those convicted of sex crimes, including the head of security and unit managers.
9. Lastly, but possibly the most important, healthcare is inadequate, delayed, and ineffective at best. Appointments with outside providers are routinely cancelled due to lack of staffing; however, residents are being transported to the same place individually in vans with two to three staff members accompanying each. Medications are mismanaged and a medical doctor is rarely available in the facility. Four deaths occurred over a six week period this summer and a former resident passed away shortly after conditional release riddled with untreated cancer. Medical records need to be examined thoroughly and the staff held accountable for inadequate management of health conditions.
Thank you for addressing these concerns,