On July 1, 1994, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the Governor of Virginia under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, indicating an intention to investigate conditions at the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute (NVMHI) in Falls Church, Virginia. In the letter, the government indicated an intention to investigate conditions at the facility including the adequacy of medical care, psychiatric care, staffing, and the use of physical and chemical restraints.
Shortly after a document request on August 19, 1994, with which staff at NVMHI did comply, attorneys for Virginia informed DOJ they had decided not to grant access to the facility. At a meeting on January 31, 1995, representatives from Virginia again denied the DOJ access to NVMHI. And at a follow-up meeting on February 14, 1995, they refused to grant DOJ access to the facility for a third time. In a March 17, 1995, letter, the representatives from Virginia informed DOJ access might be granted by the end of the year provided it accepted numerous demands, including accepting Virginia's views regarding other unresolved investigations.
On April 20, 1995, DOJ sent a findings letter to the Governor. In the findings letter, the government outlined Virginia's unacceptable refusal to cooperate and facts indicating that conditions at the facility deprived NVMHI patients of their constitutional rights and violated the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395i, and various implementing regulations for those statutes. Specifically, DOJ found inadequate mental health care, inadequate staffing, inadequate medical care and dangerous medication practices, failure to protect patients from harm, inadequate physical conditions. DOJ further outlined minimum remedial measures required to bring NVMHI into compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements.
Apparently, in June 1995, just before a meeting between the United States Attorney General and the Attorney General of Virginia, Virginia submitted a Continuous Improvement Plan and finally agreed to allow DOJ to inspect the facility. That inspection took place on July 25-27, 1995.
On April 3, 1996, DOJ sent a supplemental findings letter to the Governor. In the letter, DOJ outlined continued violations at NVMHI respecting (a) inadequate mental health care, discharge planning, and community services, (b) deficient staffing and staff supervision, (c) inadequate medical care and medication practices, (d) inadequate protection from harm, (e) inappropriate use of restraints and seclusion, (f) unsafe physical conditions, and (g) inadequate quality assurance and recordkeeping. As in the April 20, 1995, letter, DOJ again outlined minimum remedial measures required to bring NVMHI into compliance with constitutional and statutory requirements.
We have no more information on this file and thus do not know what measures, if any, NVMHI took to address the issues.Josh Altman - 07/03/2006