NHPR News Series: Abuse And Neglect At Lakeview

Ryan Libbey, a former patient at Lakeview. His mother Jennifer Cote gave NHPR permission to publish photos of her son's injuries.

This series was the basis for a collaborative investigation by NHPR and Reveal, a new investigative public radio program and podcast produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit newsroom based in California, and PRX.

Click here to read the investigation and listen to the documentary, "A Mountain of Misconduct."

In September 2014, Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center in Effingham, N.H. came under scrutiny for abusing and neglecting some of the people it cares for – children and adults with brain injuries and developmental disabilities.

NHPR has been looking into these accusations, and it turns out the state had warning signs about series problems at this facility going back to the early 1990s. In this special series and continuing coverage, reporter Jack Rodolico examines the scope of the problems and the state's role in Lakeview's story.

File Photo

The 72-acre, sprawling campus of Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center - with about a dozen buildings overlooking lakes and mountains - has always been used as a place to treat people with brain injuries or developmental disabilities. But there has always been controversy too.

    

In 1992 the FBI raided the site when they suspected the original owners of fraud. And then last year, after the Disability Rights Center put out a scathing report on Lakeview’s practices, the state shut it down. The place was notorious for poor care. But Eric Spofford hopes to change all that.

Jack Rodolico

The family of a man who died at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center is suing the company, which has all but shut down operations in New Hampshire.

The family filed suit against Lakeview and its medical director in Merrimack County Superior Court, claiming neglect and wrongful death, among other things.

At a recent town meeting in Madison, just south of Conway, a tiny room was packed: five zoning board members sat at a table in front of the police chief, frustrated neighbors and attorneys for a company called Becket Family of Services. The mood was tense. This was the third meeting like this one, and the prior two ended in stalemates.

H.A. Kimball

The way New Hampshire cares for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities has changed dramatically over the past 200 years.

The shifts in approach have been urged on by advances in drugs and science, legislative mandate, budget cuts, and the force of media and popular culture.

Just 25 years ago, New Hampshire was a national leader in caring for people with mental and physical disabilities. Today, the state ranks closer to the bottom, and New Hampshire is in the middle of a period of dramatic change.

It was nearly a year ago that widespread abuse at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham came to light. Now, Lakeview is shutting down.

The facility is a treatment center for people with brain injuries and intellectual disabilities. And as New Hampshire faces a future without Lakeview, families and state regulators are deciding where to send people with highly challenging behaviors. 

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham is telling employees it plans to close as early as August 1. This comes amid new reports of a sexual assault at the facility.

Jack Rodolico

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center will close its doors. This follows months of scrutiny after documented cases of abuse and neglect.

Lakeview CEO Chris Slover says if the state won’t allow the facility’s special education school to remain open, then he will not be able to keep the entire facility open – that includes an 88-bed treatment facility for people with brain injuries and other disabilities.

"I don’t have a choice. What they’re asking us to do is unrealistic," Slover says.

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham is appealing the state’s decision to revoke its special education license. The facility is currently under heavy scrutiny by state regulators for abuse and neglect of people with disabilities and brain injuries.

Lakeview has also hired a new executive director, who was formerly an employee for New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services. And Lakeview has hired a new director of special education as it appeals the state’s decision to revoke its license.

Courtesy the Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

New reports commissioned by Governor Maggie Hassan have found state regulators failed to protect residents from abuse and neglect at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham.

The reports come as the Department of Education - after repeated attempts to push Lakeview into compliance with state regulations - announces it will shut down the Lakeview School. 

The state will now reevaluate how it regulates the facility’s residential program.

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Late last month, the New Hampshire Department of Education made an unannounced visit to Lakeview School in Effingham. DOE had placed the special education school on provisional approval last November, and February 26 marked the third – though the only unannounced – visit to Lakeview since the fall.

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

Yesterday, NHPR reported on abuse and neglect of people with disabilities at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham. This story is the second in a two-part series on Lakeview.

Since October 2014, the Department of Education has found major deficiencies in virtually every aspect of the Lakeview School, one of the most expensive state-certified special education programs in New Hampshire. As a result, the school is on "provisional approval."

As of January 26 2015, Lakeview had not complied with the following deficiency findings:

Photos of Ryan's injuries were taken by Cote and published by NHPR with her permission

Since last September, Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham has been under scrutiny for abusing and neglecting some of the people it cares for – children and adults with brain injuries and developmental disabilities. NHPR has been looking into these accusations, and it turns out the state had warning signs about Lakeview going back to at least 2011.

This is the first of two stories on Lakeview, a look at the scope of those accusations. 

Following are many of the source documents and related media used in NHPR's reporting on the Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham, N.H. 

Visit our Flickr album to see photos of Jennifer Cote and her son Ryan Libbey taken by Greta Rybus for NHPR.

Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

The state has accepted a Plan of Correction from Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham, which means, for now, Lakeview’s doors wills stay open.

Last September the Disability Rights Center released two reports alleging many instances of neglect and abuse at Lakeview, and at that time Governor Maggie Hassan shut down new admissions to the facility. Lakeview cares for people with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

NHPR’s Jack Rodolico discussed what's next for Lakeview on All Things Considered.

Lakeview Systems

A beleaguered company accused of neglecting and abusing people with disabilities has sold off most of its programs in New Hampshire.

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham has come under heavy fire for neglecting the people it is paid to care for – minors and adults with disabilities and brain injuries. Since September the facility has been under review by the state.

And until last week, parent company Lakeview Systems owned eight other programs with a total of about 55 beds in six New Hampshire communities.

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center, Effingham, NH.

A new state report documents systemic neglect and abuse at a residential facility for people with disabilities in Effingham.

Now the state will determine if the facility can keep its doors open. But the state may simply be ill-equipped to stop these kinds of problems before they happen.

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center, Effingham.

A report due out Monday could determine the future of a facility for people with disabilities. But some advocates are already concerned about how that report was written.

In September, the Disability Rights Center alleged the death of one resident at Lakeview Neurorehabilition Center in Effingham was indicative of a wide pattern of neglect, abuse and isolation.

"There were pervasive problems with clients not being appropriately monitored, clients being injured," says Karen Rosenberg. "Yet the [Department of Health and Human Services] took no action."