Oversight and Regulation of Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities in Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia



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Oversight and Regulation of Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities in Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia

June 4, 2019


Via Email: DelRSullivan@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Rip Sullivan

P.O. Box 50753

Arlington, VA 22205


Re: Oversight and Regulation of Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities in Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia


Dear Del. Sullivan,


I am writing to thank you for your recent help with the situation in McLean concerning Newport Academy’s efforts to open Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities in residential zones and to ask that you continue to stay informed and involved as there are developments and continued issues to monitor and actions to be taken.


As you know, Leslie Johnson, the Fairfax County Zoning Administrator, issued a determination that the proposed use of the three contiguous Davidson Properties as a psychiatric residential treatment facility is most similar to a “Congregate Living Facility” rather than a “Group Living Facility” pursuant to Fairfax County’s zoning definitions.  


However, this does not address the proposed incorrect use of a psychiatric residential treatment facility as a “Group Living Facility” pursuant to Fairfax County’s zoning definitions.  As defined by VA Code, an "inpatient psychiatric facility" or "IPF" means a private or state-run freestanding psychiatric hospital or psychiatric residential treatment center.  Fairfax County zoning defines a “Medical Care Facility” as any institution, place, building, or agency that offers or provides health services and medical, psychiatric, or surgical care to two or more persons, primarily as inpatients.  


This research done by McLean residents suggests that a valid argument can be made that psychiatric residential treatment facilities are in fact Medical Treatment Facilities pursuant to Fairfax County Zoning which have, we believe, stricter zoning regulations. This would also apply to the NA facility on Kurtz Road (or any other NA facility) as pursuant to this website their primary specialty is listed as “Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility” which according to the Virginia statute is an inpatient psychiatric facility which could arguably be considered a Medical Care Facility.


I understand that you are working on drafting legislation to improve the oversight and regulation of these such facilities to act in the Virginia Legislature when you are back in session next year and I want to thank you for taking the lead in this effort. Stopping NA in McLean even when plans are for one or two non-contiguous facilities is, however, important to achieve now and would provide a roadmap and precedent for your efforts in January.

We respectfully request that you please contact Attorney General Mark Herring and request an official opinion on whether a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility, as an inpatient psychiatric facility, should be categorized as a “medical care facility” that offers or provides health services and medical, psychiatric, or surgical care to two or more persons, primarily as inpatients.  

Additionally, I am writing to ask that you please contact the AG and the DBHDS and request that a temporary delay be placed on issuing licenses to NA and other psychiatric residential treatment facilities until a) clarification of definitions and applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations can be addressed, and b) Fairfax County has had time to conduct a planning study to identify locations of community residences for people with disabilities in order to determine whether additional clustering on a block or in a neighborhood is occurring in an effort to preserve not only the goals of Group Homes  but the characteristics of residential neighborhoods.   

Please know that we have a common goal - to increase the oversight and regulation of (but not the exclusion of) all Group Homes serving Disabled Persons to (a) ensure compliance with but not abuse of the Federal Fair Housing Act and applicable Federal, Virginia and Fairfax County laws and regulations; (b) ensure the health and safety of all residents of Group Homes; and (c) preserve not only the goals of Group Homes but the characteristics of residential neighborhoods.   


Sincerest Thanks,


/s/ Katie Zimmerman

/s/ Christiane Lourenco


Katie Zimmerman and Christiane Lourenco




CC Via Email: Del. Kathleen Murphy; AG Mark Herring; Leslie Johnson; Jae Benz; John Foust; Chairman Bulova


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1. 12VAC30-130-850. Definitions. Part XIV. Residential Psychiatric Treatment for Children and Adolescents.


2. https://npino.com/drug-rehab/1316427214-newport-academy-kurtz/?fbclid=IwAR1N1MP2cSOj_f8HaA5KnjSUg3aKKNIptwiLyvJQM7dDnA5PIaAORsKpWpM


3. See Planning/Communications, Fairfax County, Virginia Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice 2016–2020 (River Forest, IL: Sept. 2017), p. 224  

4. “Community residences must locate to achieve their main goals: normalization and community integration… …community residences that locate too close to one another undermine their ability to achieve normalization and community integration. Clustering community residences on a block can create a de facto social service district and create an institutional atmosphere. A rationally-based spacing requirement benefits the protected class: people with disabilities.” See Daniel Lauber, “A Real LULU: Zoning for Group Homes and Halfway Houses Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988” John Marshall Law Review, Vol. 29, No 2, Winter 1996, p. 369-407. 

5. Group Home to include both “traditional” and “transitional” community residences, residential treatment facilities, children's residential facilities, residential facilities, etc., in which the residents are a class of Disabled Persons. 

6. Courts have, on occasion, upheld local zoning authority if a city demonstrates that a group care facility would substantially affect the character of a neighborhood.” See Ted Gathe, “Regulating Group Homes in the Twenty First Century: The Limits of Municipal Authority”, April 2013, p. 6-18.
 




$60,000 a month. That's what it costs for your teenager to stay in a Newport Academy treatment center. 

The company is said to have plans to buy up to six homes in McLean.


Residents call it a "corporate takeover" of their neighborhood. They say they're not "group homes" but high-end treatment centers taking advantage of the opioid epidemic and lax zoning laws.



Tom Shen 99% of Newport Academy's revenue comes from insurance due to Affordable Care Act which is funded or subsidized by the tax money. In another word, our tax dollar is being exploited by these rehab businesses. The operation of NA is more close to that of a medical treatment facility, than to that of a regular "group home" which operates by charging members rent (no insurance is involved, is this right?).



5/31/2019

McLean residents fight single-home drug rehab centers

Newport has backed off plans for three-house facility, and looks to open as many as six single 'group homes' in McLean.

Author: Peggy Fox

MCLEAN, Va. — A youth drug rehab company is backing off setting up a three-house facility in McLean. But Newport Academy is moving forward with plans to open as many as six single "group homes" in the McLean area.

The backlash from the McLean community, and community feedback, persuaded Newport Academy to "modify it's expansion plans by ceasing planned openings on Davidson Road," according to a statement sent by Marc Lampkin, a resident who helped negotiate a solution to the Davidson Road situation. 

Newport purchased three homes on Davidson Road near McLean high school. Recently, the Fairfax County Zoning Administrator determined they weren't federally-protected group homes, which need no zoning changes, but congregate living facilities that do require county approval.

RELATED: Residents surprised, upset after teen drug rehab center buys three McLean homes



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The company is continuing with it's plans to open other single-home facilities, including one on Kurtz Road right behind Franklin Sherman Elementary School.

 A group home in Virginia can hold up to eight residents. There are signs along Kurtz Road opposing it.




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WUSA9

"We understand the need to group homes," Sarah Nearing, a nearby resident said. "These are not group homes. They're congregate living facilities. Where there are going to be many, many teenagers circling in and out over several-week periods. So they're only going to be there for several weeks, and that is not a group home ... It's no longer a single-family home. It's a facility serving patients who are cycling in and out." 

"I view it as a treatment facility," Stephanie Hein, who lives next door to the Kurtz home, said. "Which is not a bad thing, that's fine, that's what it is."

Along with the eight residents, according to Jamison Monroe, Newport's CEO, at least nine staff members will be coming and going on the already busy street.

Hein said the facility needs to be regulated.

"We're not asking the county to do anything but label this as a congregate living facility as opposed to a group home because of the transient level of it and because of the level of the scale of operations that's happening," Hein said. Because up to 70 kids can come through one single home in a year."



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RELATED: Anger erupts in McLean over youth treatment center

Hein said traffic, staffing, and any potential problems could be addressed and controlled with county regulation. 

"If they call it a group home, they have by right ability to pop up anywhere and as many as they want to," Hein said.

WUSA9 asked Newport Academy how much it cost to stay in its facilities. 

The Newport employee said, "Your insurance company will cover it."  

The employee said the cost is $2000 per day. That's $60,000 per month for one person. Eight residents would add up to $480,000 per month at one home.



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"This is a for-profit drug rehab industry that has exploded, particularly since the ACA, exploiting the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and taking advantage of vulnerable populations and the opioid epidemic," Nearing said.

County leaders and neighbors have been in communication with members of the Carlyle Group investment firm who are on the board of Newport. 

Here's a statement Marc Lampkin attributed to Newport: 



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Newport Academy is the nation’s leading provider of mental health residential and outpatient treatment for teens and young adults. As such, we have received direct requests from parents, clinicians, insurance companies and other referral sources to bring our well-recognized adolescent mental health treatment program to the Northern Virginia market. To that end, we acquired multiple properties to extend our reach more formally into the McLean community. Although these group homes are fully legal and protected under the Fair Housing Act, as well as other applicable federal, Virginia and Fairfax County laws, Newport Academy has listened to the community’s feedback and has opted to modify its expansion plans by ceasing planned openings on Davidson Road.

Our commitment to service the Northern Virginia market remains intact. We look forward to opening these much-needed services in McLean in the near future and hope to keep the lines of communication open with the community and its elected officials as we seek to contribute in a positive way towards addressing the mental health crisis in the greater DC area.


RELATED: McLean residents opposed to youth rehab center win first step to stop it






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5/31/2019

Youth drug and psychiatric company receives backlash


ALL: Peggy Fox interviewed Stephanie and Sarah this afternoon in the Kurtz neighborhood (thanks for being available and willing to get on camera!) They were both awesome and said exactly what needed saying - that even one Newport is too big to be operating in a neighborhood without proper oversight (or perhaps at all) and that what’s happening on Kurtz is a symptom of a larger problem. Keep you eyes out for a story tonight (hopefully) on WUSA9.

Peggy really seems to “get” it and it feels like she’ll report this fairly. She saw us all at the debate last night and I’m sure that also helped her to come around - so thank you to the many of you who were able to come out last night (we were again almost a quarter of the audience)!!!



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Statement from Newport Academy: 
"Newport Academy is the nation’s leading provider of mental health residential and outpatient treatment for teens and young adults. As such, we have received direct requests from parents, clinicians, insurance companies and other referral sources to bring our well-recognized adolescent mental health treatment program to the Northern Virginia market. To that end, we acquired multiple properties to extend our reach more formally into the McLean community. Although these group homes are fully legal and protected under the Fair Housing Act, as well as other applicable federal, Virginia and Fairfax County laws, Newport Academy has listened to the community’s feedback and has opted to modify its expansion plans by ceasing planned openings on Davidson Road.

Our commitment to service the Northern Virginia market remains intact. We look forward to opening these much-needed services in McLean in the near future and hope to keep the lines of communication open with the community and its elected officials as we seek to contribute in a positive way towards addressing the mental health crisis in the greater DC area."








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