FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – A behavioral treatment facility in Florence is under investigation for numerous staff misconduct, abuse and exploitation allegations.
Florence Police Department officials said the most recent incident happened Thursday night when a Palmetto Pee Dee Behavioral Health patient attempted to jump off a lower roof of the building. Officials with Palmetto Pee Dee said the resident did not jump at any time and turned from the roof on her own, without injury.
But recent reports WMBF News obtained from the Department of Health and Environmental Control show the facility violated several policies.
One DHEC report detailed an incident caught on camera in January where a resident was shown being dragged down the hallway by three male staff members. Another DHEC report said the facility does not have enough staff to supervise residents.
Incident reports also showed several times a resident was able to escape.
Former patient Daquane Range spoke out about his time at the facility. He said he stayed at Palmetto Pee Dee Behavioral Health for about a year in 2015 to help cope with sexual abuse trauma. He said in that time he was abused and saw other misconduct going on as well.
“I had to sleep in a bed that had pee and fecal matter on it, it wasn’t cleaned properly, so I had my mom bring sheets and stuff for me to put on it,” Range said.
Range also claimed that during his time there he was body slammed and abused and so were other patients.
“There’s some instances where staff members would hit, beat on the kids and punch them in the stomach,” Range said.
As for the incident reports that claimed patients were able to escape, Range said that’s something that wasn’t hard to do. “So of the doors in the facility, they’re easy to unlock and access because they’re magnetic and if you keep pushing on it, they’ll de-activate and you can get out,” Range said.
Palmetto Pee Dee CEO Daniel Eichelberger responded to the violations and allegations through email.
Here is his full statement:
We are working directly with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), other appropriate agencies and law enforcement to investigate the allegations. We have received this report and have responded to the state with actions to be taken in response to the allegations, including confirming our policies, procedures, additional staff training and disciplinary action taken.
A resident did access the roof Thursday by climbing the fence. Staff responded quickly and were with her on the roof until EMS and law enforcement arrived. The resident returned from the roof on her own, without injury or further incident; she did not jump at any time. The resident was taken to a nearby medical center for assessment. We immediately addressed the area that the resident used to access the roof; specifically we removed part of the awning and built a structure to prevent this situation from reoccurring.
Contrary to previous reporting, routine inspections and treatments are completed by a pest control company, and we make every effort to quickly clean up any mess that a resident may make. Furthermore, we are in the process of a significant renovation project that includes new walls, paint, furniture, flooring, and fencing for the facility.
Palmetto Pee Dee Behavioral Health is a residential treatment center serving youths with a wide range of severe psychiatric or addictive disease diagnoses. We strive to provide high quality treatment and care to these patients with special, and often complex, mental health needs. We hold our staff accountable and have high expectations for staff interaction with patients, with their peers and in support of our local community.
But Range said he wants justice for those who’ve gone through what he did and wants something more drastic to be done.
“Completely closed. I just want kids out of there. If there have to be arrests, so be it,” Range said.
DHEC will meet with facility officials on March 28 to discuss the violations and any corrective actions the facility plans to take.