Imminent Danger: Uncovering Secrets Inside Behavioral Health in Johnstown Heights, Colorado

JOHNSTOWN, Colo. The mental health facility that once housed Clear View Behavioral Health about an hour’s drive north of Denver has a new name and new owners. Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health was set to open for business in 2021, but insiders tell Denver7 Investigates that the conditions in Johnstown are nearly identical to the facility that was shut down by state regulators 10 months earlier.

For more than 14 months, current and former employees and patients have told Denver7 Investigates the same story: Concern for their safety and the safety of others at a facility that puts profits before patient care.

Since opening, state regulators have listed Johnstown Heights several times as the most serious of “imminent danger.” But somehow its doors stay open.

When Denver7 Investigates visited Johnstown Heights in an attempt to contact the CEO about the allegations, several staff members reached out to report what they believed to be poor working conditions.

Shortly after Denver7 Investigates went to Johnstown Heights, an internal email, later obtained by sources, was sent by an executive assistant to CEO Sean Peterson, dissuading employees from speaking to the media.

After initial reports from Johnstown Heights, two former nurses at the 92-bed facility came forward after Denver7 Investigates confirmed that the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) was investigating patient and staff allegations of keeping patients longer than necessary and that staffing levels were unsafe. low.

Johnstown Heights is a s—hole in many ways,” one nurse said. “Nothing they do is to help the patients. There are no security measures. And you’ll be lucky if you get out of there alive.

In May, the nurse’s fears came true. Johnstown police ruled the patient’s death at the facility accidental, but insiders with knowledge of the situation and new state audit reports obtained by Denver7 Investigates tell a different story.

During a three-day stay at Johnstown Heights, the state’s investigation shows the patient was unattended for 16 hours before he died.

Denver7 Investiges brought the details of the case to the Larimer County Coroner, who, after reviewing the state’s investigative reports, said, “I think there are issues that could involve both civil and criminal negligence and that those allegations can be made.” the police department is re-opening the investigation.

After hearing about the patient’s death, questions about the validity and functionality of state inspections were raised from the sources. Insiders contacted Denver7 Investigates to alert them to the so-called “surprise inspections.”

Several former and current employees confirmed that management at Johnstown Heights was tipped off and sometimes had several days to clean and staff before inspectors made their rounds.

The state did not respond to the serious accusations made by expert insiders. After multiple interview requests were denied in attempts to discuss concerns raised by employees and patients, the facility’s demise and allegations of a lack of oversight by state regulators, Denver7 Investigates took its questions to Colorado’s most powerful leader: the governor.

Governor Jared Polis also refused to be interviewed for weeks despite multiple requests. Before the public appearance, Denver7 Investigates caught up with Polis to ask why CDPHE, which his office oversees, is accused of not disclosing when inspections are conducted. State records also confirmed that each of their visits to Johnstown was to be unannounced.

At the meeting, Polis urged the public to present arguments about the government’s hints. He added that if regulators leaked surprise inspections of facilities, it would be against state policy. Responding to Denver7 reports, the governor also opened a hotline to help identify the leak.

Denver7 Investigates continues to investigate the serious allegations made against Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health. To submit a tip to the investigative team, please email Investigates@denver7.com.

Imminent Danger: Uncovering Secrets Inside Behavioral Health in Johnstown Heights, Colorado


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