Columbus mental health agency treating children, addicts abruptly closes, leaving clients without help

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A mental health agency abruptly shut its doors in Columbus.

Former Ohio State University football player Maurice Clarett founded the RedZone to counsel people with drug addiction and even help kids with mental health issues.

However, the business is now closed.

More than a hundred clients are left without counselors since the RedZone shut down operation last week.

“Complete shock. It was so out of the blue,” mental health specialist Keah Carter said.

Carter said she woke up on a Sunday morning to an email from Clarett that RedZone has been shut down.

“Just said our paperwork was inaccurate and he was never being reimbursed,” Carter said.

The attorney for the RedZone said the reason for the closure was because the paperwork for clients sent to Medicaid had monumental errors from the staff.

According to a letter to employees, this caused hundreds of claims to be rejected by Medicaid.

Employees said there was a staff meeting a week before the letter was sent.

“He had a mandatory training in order for us to create the notes and paperwork,” Carter said.

NBC4 tried calling the number for the RedZone to get in touch with Clarett, but it was disconnected.

And the email bounced back when trying to reach out to the company.

The attorney said about 15 percent of the company’s clients were children.

“I instantly thought of the children,” Carter said. “I really worked my butt off to gain those relationships with the children.”

Carter said she worked with elementary school students with mental health issues.

“I’m still heartbroken over the whole situation,” she said.

Other clients like Justin Gearheart were getting counseling for former drug addiction.

“They’ve changed my life a lot from what it used to be,” Gearheart said.

And seeking help is crucial, but now he said he doesn’t know what he’s going to do.

“I’ve lost a lot of family and it’s really important,” Gearheart said.

As employees and clients are left with questions, they said they wish proper notice was given before the closure.

“I’m just very disappointed,” said Bet Laurenz, a counselor for substance abuse clients. “I assume he was redeeming himself and working for better part of community to help these individuals.”

The attorney said a letter was also sent out to other organizations notifying them of the closure.

NBC4 has been trying to get in touch with Clarett, but haven’t heard back.

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

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