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Incidents at LifeQuest in Palmer, NE (Update)

Palmer, Nebraska

How We Got Here:

In the summer of 2017, concerns arose concerning the health and safety of residents living at the Life Quest facility at the Coolidge Center in Palmer, Nebraska and Life Quest at Bel Amis in Blue Hill.  Both facilities were licensed as mental health centers. Inspections of the facilities were done by Division of Public Health and both facilities failed to meet the standards of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Blue Hill facility failed to comply with regulations on multiple occasions dating back to 2012. Conditions and lack of treatment become more visible to the public with the death of a female veteran at Palmer on September 3, 2017.

Timeline:

  • 7/21/17:  Division of Public Health conducts inspection at Life Quest-Palmer and issues an 81-page report documenting multiple violations.
  • 9/3/17:  U.S. military veteran dies at Life Quest-Palmer.  Following her death, a law enforcement investigation of the facility is launched.
  • 9/22/17:  The Division of Public Health issues an investigative report into the resident's death.
  • 10/5/17:  The Division revokes Life Quest-Palmer's license to operate as a mental health center and concurrently conducts an inspection of Life Quest-Blue Hill, issuing a 42-page report documenting multiple violations. 
  • 10/20/17:  Effective date of  Life Quest-Palmer's license revocation.  Notice of Disciplinary Action concurrently filed against Life Quest-Blue Hill
  • 1/18/2018: Senator Lynne Walz of Fremont introduces LB 1093 to establish the office of the Inspector General of Nebraska Public Health within the Office of Public Counsel in order to conduct reviews of state-licensed healthcare facilities.
  • 1/23/18:  LR 296 is introduced by Senator Walz.  The resolution would require the Executive Board of the Legislative Council to appoint a special committee known as the State-Licensed Care Facilities Investigative Committee of the Legislature to look into conditions at the facilities.
  • 2/21/18:  LR 296 goes to hearing in front of the Executive Board of the Legislature.  Sen. Walz states that "Nebraskans who struggle with persistent and severe mental illness deserve better treatment than they are receiving from facilities that are licensed by the state Department of Health and Human Services." 
  • 2/26/18: Life Quest-Blue Hill closes its doors. 
  • 4/11/18:  LR 296 is adopted by the Legislature on a vote of 26-13, creating the State-Licensed Care Facilities Oversight Committee.
  • 4/18/18:  Sens. Curt Friesen, Steve Halloran, Lou Ann Linehan, Dan Quick, Theresa Thibodeau, Lynne Walz and Anna Wishart are appointed to serve on the Committee.  LB 1093 is indefinitely postponed.

Disability Rights Nebraska continues to monitor the placement of the people who lived in both facilities. 

Disability Rights Nebraska responded to news of the closure of the Palmer facility with a letter to Courtney Phillips, CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services for the State of Nebraska expressing grave concern about the deaths of two residents and the violations at the facility.

The letter can also be accessed here.

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