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'It wasn’t a safe place for patients': Colorado’s AG on the closing of mental health care facility

State closes Clear View after 20 months of Denver7 Investigative reports
clear view behavioral health shut down
Posted at 7:38 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 22:16:10-04

DENVER — For nearly two years, patients, family members and employees have been asking for state intervention into a mental health hospital in northern Colorado. On Monday, that action happened, and now, Colorado’s governor and attorney general are responding.

“They weren’t protecting people,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said Tuesday. “Their management was irresponsible. It wasn’t a safe place for patients.”

The attorney general’s comments come less than 24 hours after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced it had revoked Clear View Behavioral Health’s license for what it called “consistent regulatory violations.” The mental health hospital in Johnstown has been the focus of numerous state inspections and investigations since reports started airing on Denver7 in January 2019.

State sources have said they believe this is the first time in at least 17 years, and possibly the first time ever, the state of Colorado has closed down a mental health hospital and forced the operator to send patients to other facilities. Denver7 cameras were on Monday outside of Clear View, where several ambulances arrived to transport patients to other mental health facilities in the state.

During the past 20 months, more than a dozen reports by the Denver7 Investigates team uncovered complaints of wrongdoing from patients, family members, current employees and former employees of the Johnstown mental health hospital.

“It needs to be shut down,” said one former patient who asked for Denver7 to disguise her identity.

A parent of a former patient agreed, saying, “Clear View needs to be shut down.”

In all, more than three-dozen former patients, family members and insiders reached out to Denver7, attempting to pressure the state to take action. Many of those sources have questioned why it took the state nearly two years to take the action it took on Monday.

“Unfortunately for those on the outside who are frustrated, my message is sometimes the legal process takes time,” Weiser said. “Maybe, arguably, they were given third and fourth chances. They weren’t able to take the action necessary and now they are going to be closed down.”

Denver7 Investigates has confirmed the state’s decision to close Clear View followed a critical series of tips from a former employee who made allegations of fraud and improper patient care. The state conducted an unannounced visit last week following the tip.

“It’s cumulative,” said Weiser in describing what led the state to take the strongest action possible. “Previously, there were sanctions for the types of things (Denver7) reported, but it was this final straw of failing to protect patients that led the state to say we can’t have this anymore, we need to close it down.”

State inspectors reported on Monday that Clear View’s management team failed to provide proper safety protections for COVID-19 issues that put patients and staff at risk.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also commented on the action by the state’s health department.

“We need to put patient care first, especially for those in need,” Polis said. “I hope this is a wake-up call about the seriousness of their responsibility to meet the needs of patients.”