COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A south side residential treatment center for troubled children agreed to discharge all of its residents this week amid allegations that staff members were physically abusing the children.
An investigative report by Disability Rights Ohio concluded that the residents of the Heritage of Hannah Neil complex on Obetz Rd were exposed to physically abusive behavior, inappropriate restraint techniques, unsanitary conditions and a poorly supervised and unstructured environment.
Kirstin Sjoberg, Director of Advocacy at Disability Rights Ohio says the residents placed at Hannah Neil are victims of some form of trauma.
“They went there because of trauma and in need of treatment and they didn’t get that,” Sjoberg said. “Instead they were exposed to further trauma.”
Sjoberg, says the residents, who range in age from 5 to 18, were kicked, choked and inappropriately restrained by staff members at the Center. She says the investigation found numerous unreported incidents and a glaring absence of programming.
“This is a place that’s supposed to be providing mental heath treatment to kids who need it and there was, based on what we saw in the video and based on the documents we asked for, there was no structured programming for these kids being provided by Hannah Neil,” Sjoberg said.
Eastway Behavioral Healthcare, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the facility said it is working with state officials to correct the problems. In a statement, Eastway CEO John Strahm said they have begun a comprehensive restructuring including new leadership and re-examination of all policies and procedures.
“We are committed to thoroughly and diligently completing the process necessary to ensure that the environment is healthy, supportive and nurturing for the children in our care. We pledge to restore Hannah Neil’s residential program to those standards of care that we have always worked so hard to achieve and to regain the confidence of the public, state service institutions and our clients,” said Strahm.
Eastway said the facility will remain open for outpatient and day treatment programs.