Center for disabled regains license after alleged abuse

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Health regulators have granted a 6-month license to a center for developmentally disabled adults and children in Romney.

Two-dozen children were removed from the facility in mid-January because of abuse allegations.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources provisional license will let the center open cottages to house eight children from 5 to 21 years old. The license took effect Tuesday.

Health officials say Potomac took corrective action and state inspectors will frequently review the facility, complete random safety checks and review protocols. County judges, prosecutors and behavioral health providers have assisted the state.

“Over the course of three months, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources has worked with the Potomac Center to ensure they meet all the criteria for licensure and have appropriate guidelines in place to provide a safe environment for the residents,” Karen Bowling, DHHR cabinet secretary, said in a news release.

After upper management reported the allegations, children were removed from three intensive training program group homes and moved to other facilities statewide. DHHR also stopped Medicaid funding for the program.

A lawsuit filed April 7 alleges that employees abused a 17-year-old former Potomac Center resident. It also claims the center was negligent in hiring, training and supervising staff to prevent the alleged abuse. Bailey and Glasser, a Charleston law firm, filed the lawsuit in Hampshire County Circuit Court.

The state Police, which is investigating allegations, has said up to 12 children removed, ages 7 to 17, were abuse victims.

The center laid off 50 employees in January amid the investigation.

The nonprofit Potomac Center offers residential assistance and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities, along with respite for caregivers. It also manages a foster care program in Romney, Moorefield and Elkins.

Potomac Center CEO Rick Harshbarger could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

— The Associated Press

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