Alleged child abuse at Omega Treatment Center in Greensboro, conditions ‘inhumane’

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The state Department of Health and Human Services said 11 current and former employees of Omega Treatment Center in Greensboro failed to protect adolescent clients and subjected four clients to abuse and neglect.

According to documents from the Department of Health and Human Services, Omega Treatment Center’s license to operate was summarily suspended on Feb. 12. The program is part of Elite Adolescent Care, Inc.

DHHS took emergency action to relocate at least six children living in the facility at 4501 Old Battleground Road.

The 176-page DHHS statement of deficiencies released to FOX8 details interviews with former and current staff, CEO Barsheem Chapman, clients, parents of clients and local inspectors.

DHHS interviewed six clients ages 9, 11, 12, 14, 14 and 15 who were living at the facility for treatment.

In the report, a health inspector said some clients were living on two halls that were not yet licensed. He described the conditions as “inhumane,” adding, “I wouldn’t even allow a dog to live back there.”

According to the interviews, the facility was kept “uncomfortably cold” and had peeling paint, loose wires, rusty showers and exposed screws. Inspectors also described “jagged shards of glass” on at least one bathroom floor and window.

One employee described buying coats for the children with his or her own money because of the cold temperature inside.

A staff member admitted, “There’s no way they could get out if there was a fire.”

DHHS reported Omega Treatment Center failed to request statewide criminal background checks prior to a conditional offer of employment for 14 of 22 current staff and 1 of 8 former staff.

The children treated at the facility had a range of mental illnesses, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar, Autism, mood disorders, ADD, ADHD and suicidal tendencies.

DHHS said staff members lacked certain training required at state-licensed Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities. In the report, an employee shared, “It would have helped to have had experience and training before starting working here.”

Another staff member told DHHS they’d only been given “bits and pieces” of federal and state rules. “If you want to give me a full set, I’d love to have it,” he or she told investigators in an interview.

According to the state documents, there was no official Medical Director over the staff. The CEO identified one to the state, but that doctor later told investigators he had never been involved with Omega.

A registered nurse who used to work at the center described the situation as “pitiful, just pitiful.” He or she “thought it was odd they were bringing people in straight off the street without any experience,” and eventually the employee “got the heck out of dodge.”

The children and teenagers treated at the facility told investigators about “the chicken wing” restraint where staff allegedly pinned clients’ arms behind their backs and pressed upward until it hurt. The move is against state rules because it can dislocate the client’s shoulders. They are supposed to use what’s described in rules as the “therapeutic hold.”

“You have to help us,” one child told investigators. “They are torturing us here.”

The documents described a situation where two of the clients were left alone and locked in a hallway on more than one occasion. One of the clients has felony sex assault charges and a “high risk to reoffend” according to the paperwork.

The state also reported Omega staff wrongfully used chemical injections as restraints on some children. According to state rules, injections should be a last resort for restraining a client and can only be used if a parent consents and is notified each time it’s used.

One psychiatrist interviewed in the report said the injections were used “as much as needed” and the report repeatedly cited lack of documentation for chemical injections and other actions by staff.

When asked how they handle suicidal behaviors, a staff member said, “we strip the linens so they won’t hang themselves,” but couldn’t elaborate on other methods or strategies for treating suicidal tendencies.

CEO Barhseem Chapman has the right to appeal with detailed explanations and plans for improvements for the chance to get his license back.

No one answered the door for comment at the facility Monday. Two weeks ago Chapman told FOX8 in a phone interview he had already submitted a corrective plan.

Elite Adolescent Care and Omega Treatment Center opened in March 2013. Staff said they received their first clients in November 2013.

The Greensboro Police confirmed they are investigating allegations of child abuse.

A DHHS spokesperson said records indicated no other programs were licensed to Barsheem Chapman or to Elite Adolescent Care, Inc.

The agency issued $31,000 in fines to Chapman for violations of regulations.

29 comments

  • FaithC

    I guess if you hire people with experience and the proper education you have to pay them more and that would cut into their profits.
    Glad the children were removed.

  • RCC

    I know someone who worked here and quit before they got the stop work order. She said that the clients would hit and bite them, but she also admitted that things weren’t run they way they should’ve been. She said some of the clients were very dangerous, abusive, and known liars. It’s easy to point a finger, but don’t blame every worker because some of them tried to help the clients. Fox 8 isn’t telling the complete story.

    • Manuela mills

      If you don’t have the proper education and on hand training you shouldn’t even work with the mentally disabled…it makes me sick to my stomach what happened there but the sad part is it is happening everywhere

    • Queen Bee

      And this kind of behavior is why those children are at a “treatment center.” If all this stuff went on under the owner’s nose, he should be banned from owning such facilities. I can’t believe he is given the opportunity to do this again.

  • Jim Lasane

    Fox8 should be ashamed publishing unsubstantiated allegation. Do your he work before attempting to ruin the reputation of a well intentioned service provider. Get it right!

    • Renee

      This article is written using information from a DHHS Statement of Deficiencies. This means that the NC Department of Health and Human Services has completed an investigation into the facility, and has made a list of all the violations found during that investigation. Fox8 has a copy of that document that it is using as a basis for this article. So please explain to me how this constitutes “unsubstantiated” information?

      Well intentioned doesn’t mean jack if there is abuse, neglect, and gross mistreatment of clients (or staff, for that matter) taking place. Intentions and actions are NOT the same. Think of it this way: an abusive parent may lock their child in their room for days on end, living in their own filth, with the “well intention” of disciplining their child. That doesn’t make it right.

  • Jacqui Hawkins (@HawkJ68)

    Well intentioned doesn’t mean that its right and unsubstantiated?? They removed the children and put them in other facilities!!! These stories NEED to be told. Imagine what would the life of an individual with developmental disabilities be like if Geraldo dismissed what he saw as “well intentioned”.

    And RCC, classic example of blaming the victim. These kids were diagnosed with mental illness and have probably been abused before, the last thing they need is another person that isn’t on their side. When the proper programming is put in place, with plenty of staff training, these kids would not have the behavioral issues that they do

    • RCC

      Jacqui…thank you for jumping to the conclusion that I was blaming the kids for everything. What I stated was the truth from someone who had firsthand knowledge of what it was like in the facility and quit because of what was going on. The kids were not perfect little angels that never did anything wrong. They were troubled children and that’s why they were in a rehab facility for troubled children to begin with. Yes, they had been abused, but that doesn’t excuse assaulting your caregivers because you didn’t get your way. People that are reading this story are seeing that the children were the only victims; but, in some instances, the workers were also victims. I’m sure you don’t have to worry about getting punched in the face, spit on, or bitten when you report for work.

      • lolly

        RCC, let me tell you the long and short of this situation. THESE ARE CHILDREN, who didn’t ask for these issues, nor did they asked to be placed in this type of facility. Mental illiness is what it is. Of course there as some bad behaviors, that is to be expected. I’m sure the ADULTS who CHOSE to work there were aware of the risks, so spare me their “poor me” stories. Find another job and move on but DO NOT put theses innocent children in danger. They deserve compassion and understanding period, no matter what their behavior is. There is NO ACCEPTABLE excuse for what has gone on in this situation and you should be ashamed.

  • rls

    The children are sick and have mental illnesses. Of course they didn’t act as a normal child should. You put yourself at that risk when you took the job. You knew what you were getting yourself into you were not abused. I worked at a nursing home and the clients did the same thing, in no way do I consider myself a victim. That’s just pitiful.

  • RCC

    Seriously? Ya’ll need to get real. You’re assuming what every single worker in that home abused the children and that is just not the case. Sometimes the workers were the abused…not because of a mental illness that a child couldn’t control and were not cognizant of their actions…but because they were just being down right mean. Assuming being sweet and kind to a child is going to magically make the child sweet and kind is nothing but a liberal fantasy. If that were the case…there weren’t be so many stories about bullies and teen crime. Seriously? I can see how you believe it would work. “Angel, will you please stop hitting Sarah? She already has a bloody nose and two black eyes.” In your fantasy world, Angel would stop. In the real world, Angel said, “He** no b****! I’m going to f*** her up! She looked at me wrong!” What are you going to do? Let Angel continue beating Sarah or are you going to restrain her with force? How quickly everyone forgets the Aurora movie theater and Sandy Hook shootings…both done by the mentally ill.

    What this article leaves out is that these children were placed in this type of home because they couldn’t live with their parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, or regular children’s home due to their negative behavior. They were a danger to others. And for the record, I said the place wasn’t being run correctly, but I don’t blame the workers, I blame the management.

    • lolly

      Again, they were the ADULTS. If they knew of these issues with safety, then they are legally and morally responsible to report the issues so that the children will be in a safe envioroment AT ALL TIMES! I never said that anyone was being abused. The adults are the protectors here and by not reporting the unsafe conditions, they are wrong, period, end of story. I think you’re missing the entire point here. This is not a “liberal” issue nor any other political issue. This is a HUMAN issue where you do the right thing when it comes to other human beings. Why are you taking this so personally? What if this were one of your kids? I hardly think you would be so quick to blame the children. Like I said before, if you CHOSE to work somewhere, then you know what goes on and you make the choice to either deal with it or find another job. You don’t ignore issues and continue on your way with life. Your lack of compassion is staggering. I have someone with mental disabilities in my family and I would never hold their behavior against them. It’s called tolerance, google it.

      • lolly

        RCC, In case you need clarification as to what the issue is since you have obviously missed it; it is the children’s SAFETY, NOT their BEHAVIOR.

      • RCC

        Lolly, again you reply without knowing the entire story. What this story doesn’t tell you is that the staff were doing the best they could for the children with the resources they had. The facility had already been issued several citations before it was shut down and management did nothing to correct them. DHHS WAS AWARE OF THE CONDITIONS! What were the caregivers supposed to do? Abandon the children?

      • RCC

        I’m taking it personally? Did you read the end of your post where you associated my views with your relative? I don’t even know you, your relative, or your family situation, but you seem to be taking extreme umbrage that my personal opinion is that a mentally ill person, that is aware of their actions, should bear responsibility of those actions. Obviously, your family or you have never been harmed by a person that has a mental illness. Personally, I know what it’s like to have your life turned upside down because of a mentally ill child that told a lie and was believed just because they had turned 18 years old yet.

        If you want to get mad at someone because of what happened at this facility, getting mad at me will do you no good. Get mad at the management and DHHS for letting him open the facility and then letting him keep it running despite the poor living conditions. It should’ve been shut down at the first violation. You’re picking a fight with someone who can’t assuage your anger and doesn’t really care to try.

      • T

        love you and the others standing up for these children. I have a severely autistic son myself. Yes pinching hitting kicking screaming is all a part of it. If they couldnt handle it properly they shouldve just left. the jerks. I’d **** them if any of this had happened to my son. Period.

  • B

    First, how did they get a State license to operate?? Second, you don’t need a lot of training to treat another human being with dignity and respect and in this case troubled children that need help. Third, why didn’t employees that saw the deplorable conditions report the abuse before they left their job? The person responsible for this treatment facility should be charged with child abuse and put in jail.

  • Wanda Harkins

    They must take the wrecking ball to this disheveled, mismanaged place NOW! It bothers me that this place would stay when the Laddie & Dukes restaurant (albeit a nice place) was torn down at that same corner.

  • lolly

    RCC, I am upset with you because you were making this about the adults and it was about the kids. The story was about the conditions that the CHILDREN were living in. It WAS NOT about the behavior of the children. You have no compassion clearly. I can only assume it’s at least partly because your life was negatively affected by someone who was mentally ill. You need to get that in check, Whomever did whatever to your life has nothing to do with these children. Not to give too much information about myself but I have a very serious mental illness in my family and have lost my mother and brother to suicide as a result. So I know alot about mental illness, more than you I’m sure. That is why I am able to understand that they deserve compassion and tolerance. I’m done debating this issue with you, Clearly, you still don’t understand that this story was about the children’s safety and not the workers “war stories” in dealing with the children. Post whatever you wish from this point, I will waste not one more second discussing this with you.

    • RCC

      Trying to get the last word in does not win the argument. I never blamed the children for their living conditions at this facility. My original post stated, “It’s easy to point a finger, but don’t blame every worker because some of them tried to help the clients.” How is that blaming the children? Oh, by the way, good use of the psychological attack of feeling sorry for me because I have no compassion. Is that supposed to make me feel bad? It didn’t work.

      I very clearly felt compassion for not only the children when I stated, “People that are reading this story are seeing that the children were the only victims….” See, I admitted the children are victims. However, I also felt compassion for the workers and their working conditions. So, trying to shame me because I “…have no compassion clearly” when I thought about the caregivers as well as the children is a non-argument. Did you ever think that the actions of some of the caregivers is negatively effecting the lives and freedom of the caregivers who actually tried to help the children? I thought beyond the article to the lives of every single individual that was involved with this facility, not just the children. They ALL deserve our empathy.

  • Kelly Butler Gossett

    These kids do have mental problem and need to be in a facility that has staff trained to handle these problems and how to properly deal with the children. If the facility was not capable of handling these patients, they should not have taken them in. The administration hired incompetent staff to save money. Is it the staff’s fault – ABSOLUTELY. Every person who works in health care has a duty to report abuse, neglect or violence in these facilities. While some staff said “oh its about time” are the same ones who did not report what was going on. These facilities have to meet state and federal requirements to run that facility. The administration should be fired and sued. I don’t care if these kids beat the CNA’s with a curtain rod- they are the ones with the illness and if you can’t treat them then find another line of work or get someone who can.

    • RCC

      Again, you’re making comments without taking into account the facts and how can you do that when you don’t have the entire story? DHHS WAS AWARE OF THE LIVING CONDITIONS BEFORE!!!! THE FACILITY WAS ALLOWED TO OPEN! So, whose fault is really? The staff? DHHS WAS CAME IN AND OBSERVED THE STAFF OVER A MONTH PRIOR TO THE CLOSING AND TOOK NO DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS!!!! Yet, it’s the staff’s fault? Everyone is disregarding the other people whose freedom is at stake because of the testimony of children who have known mental illnesses. You don’t know what the history of the children are. Know one knows except DHHS…and we all know they always disclose the complete and entire facts…NOT! DHHS will LIE to make themselves look good.

      Who knows, one of the kids might be a chronic liar who convinced the other children to lie. YOU DON’T KNOW!!! Yet, you can callously say, “I don’t care if these kids beat the CNA’s with a curtain rod…”. How cruel of you to say that anyone should have to put up with those kind of working conditions! In my book that’s assault and ANYONE has a right to defend themselves against assault. If it includes restraining an out of control child…then that’s what it includes. I wonder how you would feel if your daughter got beat with a curtain rod at work?

      And since when is ADD and ADHD a mental illness? My son has ADHD and I hold him accountable for EVERY improper decision he makes. I don’t excuse it because of “mental illness”.

      I suggest everyone know the whole story before placing blame on innocent people.

      • Queen Bee

        You sound very personally invested in this place. You also seem very defensive about the observations of other posters. You appear to be looking at the situation from the point of view of a “friend” who worked there. The rest of us are looking at the situation from a totally different point of view, and those of us who are trained to work with children with emotional problems and special needs find this story deplorable from every aspect.

      • RCC

        First off, you don’t know the whole story. No one knows the whole story. No one reading this article does at the least. Secondly, DHHS knew the whole story BEFORE issuing a license to operate. If the living and working conditions of the place were so horrible…why were they allowed to open in the first place? Not only did the children have to live in this facility, but the staff had to work there too. Does anyone think it was easy to take care of children in substandard conditions?

        EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED AT THIS FACILITY…E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!, HAPPENED BECAUSE DHHS DID NOT DO THEIR JOB! PERIOD!

        Everything about this story is deplorable. The living conditions of the children. The working conditions of the staff. The training of the staff. EVERYTHING! However, I don’t blame the children OR the staff for the conditions of the facility. I do blame DHHS for letting this happen in the first place. I also blame the owner for not adhering to state laws that pertained to hiring and training or for not correcting the conditions after receiving warnings. If he couldn’t run his business while adhering to all laws, the he shouldn’t have been in the business to begin with. The entire staff is not at fault.

        And by the way, the only thing I said about the children was that they abused the staff. But, clearly readers on here think that it’s okay to let children beat and spit on their caretakers just because they have a mental illness. Bad behavior, if you’re cognizant of your actions, is inexcusable.

        This story is personal. It’s personal to every single staff member that worked there. How do you think “they” feel reading the callous comments that are on here? “They” are people too…just like the children.

  • Bigjohn

    In the richest country in the world? This is what happens when you are told by politicians that we need to cut, cut and cut more spending. Compassion in America!!

    • RCC

      Bigjohn, I just got one question to ask. What percentage of your paycheck are you willing to devote to taxes to support programs such as these? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be programs, but how much more of your’s and my money do you think they should take? I only ask this because right now, the average American citizen pays over 50% of their income just in taxes (all taxes, not just income). I think the bigger question is where is the all that money they already get going. It sure isn’t these programs.

      • Bigjohn

        Where do you get your information on taxes beside Fox News?

        The average federal tax rate for all taxpayers rose slightly in 2010 to 11.81 percent, up from 11.06 percent the previous year. The tax rate paid by individuals with incomes in the top 1 percent averaged 23.39 percent, while all filers in the bottom 50 percent paid an average tax rate of 2.37 percent, according to a new Tax Foundation analysis. Add your state taxes on to that and you are nowhere close to 50%.

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