Fort Behavioral Health abruptly ends remaining treatment programs; “Expel” patients


Fort Behavioral Health, a residential treatment center that closed its programs for teens after a Star Telegram investigation After years of reports of abuse and neglect, it is ending its remaining programs for adults as well.

The center, located on Fort Worth’s southwest side, has been providing 24-hour residential treatment for teens with autism and other mental health diagnoses, and for both teens and adults diagnosed with substance abuse.

But in October, about two weeks after the Star-Telegram published an investigation into years of abuse and neglect allegations against the teen program, Fort Behavioral has closed the teen aspect of its programs They sent young patients in those programs home.

The adult substance abuse treatment program continued. But now the adult program has been discontinued as well, according to multiple sources. The facility’s last day is January 31.

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Staff and patients were given little notice about the closure, according to several people. Two laid off employees spoke to the Star-Telegram and asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

One said a patient was admitted to the program on Jan. 21 — a day or two before staff were told of the impending closure.

Such short stays hurt patients, she said, because their treatment is over and it may be difficult to get their insurance to approve a second stay for the patient elsewhere.

“The first rule of counseling is: ‘Do no harm.'” “I think they’ve caused harm,” the employee said of Fort Behavioral. “And we’ve been harmed and we don’t know it.”

The adult program’s closure comes one year after problems arose at Fort Behavioral.

Regulators in Texas Temporarily close the teen unit at Fort Behavior in January 2023 due to concerns of abuse and neglect, but was then allowed to reopen after 30 days on probation for one year. The Star-Telegram investigation, published in September, showed that the state repeatedly cited Fort Behavioral’s teen programs for incidents in which children were harmed or abused. The center also struggled with failure to report incidents to the state and chronic understaffing.

When the facility closed its teen programs in October, supervisors said the teens would be readmitted in the spring, the two employees told the Star-Telegram. But with the adult program now also closed, it’s unclear if that will happen.

“It’s a shock”

Alicia Charbonneau told the Star-Telegram that her son, Jayden, 17, was accepted into an adult substance abuse program on Jan. 11. Less than two weeks later, he called and said he needed to be picked up as soon as possible. maybe.

She said Charbonneau picked up her son on January 24, and she did not receive paperwork at that time about the closure or about her son being laid off. When she asked an employee what was happening, she said, he told her the facility was closed for financial reasons.

Charbonneau said she worries that the sudden shutdown so early in Jayden’s treatment will have lasting effects on her son.

“I think it’s painful to go through treatment and not get treatment, and then get kicked out,” she said. “He was really involved in it, and it made me angry that they really let him down.”

Steven Mallick, CEO of Fort Behavioral, did not respond to emails sent by the Star-Telegram seeking comment. The facility’s owner, billionaire and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Bobby Patton, also did not respond to the Star-Telegram’s requests for comment.

In September, when the Star-Telegram asked Patton for comment about her investigation into Fort Behavioral’s teen program, Patton responded: “I don’t know much except it doesn’t seem very profitable.”

A person who answered the admissions line at Fort Behavioral declined to allow a reporter to speak with an administrator, but said the facility was not accepting patients, and that patients would be discharged through Jan. 31.

“I can tell you it was a business decision, and that is the only information we have at this time,” the admissions line worker said.

Both laid-off employees who spoke to the Star-Telegram said they were not given a reason for the closure. They were notified about a week and a half before the shutdown and were given unemployment papers. Both were also told that their health insurance will expire on January 31, and that they will not be paid for accrued paid time off. This was repeated in an email sent by facility manager Tricia Martinez to staff, which was obtained by the Star-Telegram.

Former employees said Mallick, the CEO, had not met with employees about the closure and that they had not seen him since the announcement.

“Our backs were against the wall,” one employee told the Star-Telegram. “This is not true at all.”

In the email to all employees, Martinez thanked employees for their work and provided a list of other facilities that are hiring.

Chemical dependency programs, like Fort Behavioral, are required to notify the state “prior to or immediately after closing,” Tiffany Young, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said in an email. As of last week, Fort Behavioral had not reported closure of its program, Young said.

Young also said the facility has not given up its teen program license, which was closed in October. The facility notified the state of the teenage patients’ release in order to “re-evaluate its programs and staffing,” Young said.

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