“This place is a ticking time bomb,” DHEC releases complaints against Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health

The Investigators

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)– The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has received 23 complaints against Palmetto Behavioral Health since 2016.

The facility, which treated Jamal Sutherland the day before his death at the Al Cannon Detention Center, is licensed by DHEC as a specialized hospital with 92 psychiatric beds and 16 substance abuse beds.

FULL COVERAGE: JAMAL SUTHERLAND DEATH INVESTIGATION

The complaints included bed bug infestations, a lack of COVID-19 protocols, sexual harassment, and understaffing.

One complaint which appears to be submitted by an employee in June of 2021 focuses on staffing concerns.

“Nurses and mental health techs are supposed to be protecting the vulnerable yet we put them at risk every single day with inappropriate staffing ratios,” the complaint reads.

The complainant said nurses are often assigned 14 to 16 patients at a time. They also said medication is routinely mistakenly given to the wrong patients.

“My concern is that if the facility continues to operate this like this, serious harm will occur. This place is a ticking time bomb for a sentinel event related to staffing issues.”

DHEC Complaint

According to DHEC, the state agency investigates all complaints with allegations of a potential regulatory violation.

If investigators find a regulatory violation, they cite the facility for each violation and give the investigation report to the facility. The facility is then required to submit an acceptable plan of correction for the cited violations within a time frame specified by the agency.

“DHEC has the statutory authority to impose monetary penalties and/or suspend or revoke a facility’s license, and usually takes these actions through an enforcement action. DHEC considers a number of factors before taking an enforcement action against a facility, including the number and classification of violations, including repeat violations, specific conditions and their impact on health and safety of patients, history of compliance, and efforts to correct cited violations.”

DHEC Spokesperson

DHEC has cited Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health twice since 2016.

News 2 has requested a comment from Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health.

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