Incidents at LifeQuest in Palmer, NE (Update)
LR 296 Hearing on Sen. Walz' Call for Investigative Committee
LR 296 went to hearing in front of the Executive Board of the Legislature on Feb. 21, 2018. The resolution would create a special committee to look into state-licensed care facilities. Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, sponsor of LR296, said 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.
Dianne DeLair, senior staff attorney at Disability Rights Nebraska, testified in support of the measure. The incident in Palmer is not an isolated one, she said, calling conditions at several facilities across the state “deplorable.” The Palmer facility remained open despite repeated violations dating back to 2012, she said, and the state’s actions have been insufficient given that vulnerable people’s lives are in danger. “That [does not] help that veteran who spent the last hours of her life begging to go the hospital,” DeLair said. “When people start dying, we need to take action.”
LB 1093, a companion bill to create the Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Public Health, also sponsored by Senator Walz, had a hearing in front of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Legislature following the Executive Board hearing.
In the summer of 2017, concerns were brought up concerning the health and safety of residents living at the Life Quest facility at the Coolidge Center in Palmer, Nebraska. Life Quest was licensed as a mental health center. An inspection of the facility was done by Division of Public Health and the facility failed to meet the standards of the DHHS. This then led to an investigation of the facility where multiple violations were discovered, leading to the revocation of the facility's license.
- On September 3, a U.S. military veteran died at Life Quest as a result of the facility's complete disregard of her health
- Following her death, law enforcement launched an investigation into the facility.
- On September 22, the Division issued an investigative report into the resident's death.
- On October 5, the Division finally revoked Life Quest's license to operate as a mental health center
Disability Rights Nebraska continues to monitor the situation as it unfolds.
Below you can read the Inspection, Investigation, and Notice of Disciplinary Action:
Disability Rights Nebraska responded to news of the closure 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.