Johnstown, Colo. The mental health facility that once housed Clear View Behavioral Health, about an hour’s drive north of Denver, now has a new name and new owners. Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health opened for business in 2021, but insiders told Denver7 Investigates, conditions inside Johnstown are nearly identical to the facility that state regulators closed 10 months ago.
For more than 14 months, current and former employees, as well as patients, have told Denver7 Investigates the same story: concern for their safety and the safety of others inside a facility that prioritizes profits over patient care.
Since opening, Johnstown Heights has been marked several times by state regulators, giving it the most serious designation of “immediate danger”. But somehow its doors remain open.
After Denver7 Investigates visited Jonestown Heights in an attempt to contact the CEO about the allegations, several staff members reached out to share what they felt were poor working conditions.
Shortly after Denver7 Investigates moved to Jonestown Heights, an internal email, later obtained through sources, was sent from the executive assistant to CEO Sean Peterson, discouraging employees from speaking to the media .
Following initial reports at Johnstown Heights, two former nurses at the 92-bed facility came forward when Denver7 Investigates confirmed that the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) was investigating claims by patients and staff that patients were being treated more than they needed. Kept on much longer and staffing levels were dangerous. Less.
In many ways, Johnstown Heights is a mess,” said one nurse. “They’re doing nothing but helping patients. There are no safety measures. And you’re lucky if you get out of there alive.
The nurse’s fears came true in May. The death of a patient at the facility was ruled accidental by Johnstown police, but an insider with knowledge of the situation and a new state inspection report obtained by Denver7 Investigates tells a different story.
During a three-day stay at Johnstown Heights, the state investigation revealed that at one point the patient went 16 hours without being examined before he died.
Denver7 Investigates brought the relevant details to the Larimer County coroner, who said after reviewing the state’s investigative reports, I think there are elements that could apply to both civil and criminal negligence, and those arguments can be made. The coroner urged the police department to resume its investigation.
After learning of the patient’s death, questions circulated from sources about the legality and performance of state inspections. Insiders contacted Denver7 Investigates to alert them about the so-called “surprising observation.”
Several former and current employees confirmed that leadership at Johnstown Heights was being tipped off, sometimes taking days to clean up and prepare staff before inspectors arrived.
The state will not respond to serious allegations brought to light by informed insiders. After multiple requests for interviews were declined in an effort to discuss concerns raised by staff and patients, deaths at the facility, and claims that state regulators ignored oversight, Denver7 Investigates directed its questions to Colorado’s Most Powerful Leader: Moved to Governor.
For several weeks, Governor Jared Polis also did not agree to an interview, despite multiple requests. Before the public appearance, Denver7 Investigates met with Polis to question why CDPHE, which his office oversees, is charged with disclosing when inspections will take place. State data also confirmed that the purpose of each of his visits to Jonestown was undeclared.
During the meeting, Polis urged the public to come forward with claims of state information. He said if regulators were leaking surprise inspections of facilities, it would be a violation of state policy. Responding to Denver7 reports, the governor also launched a hotline to help identify leaks.
Denver7 Investigates continues to investigate serious allegations against Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health. To send a tip to the investigations team, email email@example.com.
Immediate Danger: Uncovering the Secrets Inside Colorado’s Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health
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