Psychiatric facility closing doors in February

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

A south Charlotte psychiatric facility for teens is closing its doors in early February, leaving dozens of teens looking for new homes and 122 employees looking for new jobs.

The Keys of Carolina officially notified the state this week that it was closing but has not said why.

Eyewitness News uncovered it was facing a list of violations from the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services and a $6,000 administrative fine, according to state officials, for violations of laws regarding the "protection from harm, abuse, neglect or exploitation" of patients.

State officials said conditions in the facility were "found to be detrimental to the health and safety of the clients" and was in the process of revoking the facility's license. The Keys had begun appealing the action when it notified the state it was closing.

A complaint survey dated Aug. 23 found several violations.

They included a complaint that said a client grabbed a staff member's lunch knife when he wasn't looking and, when caught, said he "planned to stab someone."

The staff member later resigned.

One employee said a staffer tackled a client when "he wasn't doing anything" and "intimidated and targeted clients."

But the facility said since it allegedly happened inside a client's room, "there is no visual evidence."

In another incident that one staffer described as a "mini-riot,” clients tore tiles and metal rods from the ceiling and assaulted the staff.

One employee said there were "too many clients and not enough staff."

The facility said "it meets all criteria."

"This is not normal," Brett Loftis with the Council for Children's Rights said, looking over the violations. He said they'll work with The Keys of Carolina, parents, and case workers to evaluate the teens and try to find them new homes if they still require this level of care.

"You want it to be close to their home and you want to make sure they have ready access to their families," Loftis said.