The Washington State Department of Health announced Friday it has suspended the licenses for Daybreak Youth Services facilities in Brush Prairie and Spokane for refusing to cooperate with investigations into allegations of employee misconduct.
The agency said staff at the substance abuse and mental health treatment facilities failed to cooperate with investigations since March 2022 into multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior with patients.
Of the 700 facilities investigations the department conducted last year, it said Daybreak was the only one that refused to cooperate, according to a Friday afternoon news release.
Daybreak has the right to contest the health department’s suspensions. The suspensions mean Daybreak must cease operations and work to relocate its more than 90 patients to other facilities, the news release states.
In a Friday statement, Daybreak said it will appeal the suspensions. The facility’s attorney called the health department’s filing “vindictive and retaliatory.”
Daybreak, which was founded in Spokane in 1978, purchased its Brush Prairie facility in 2016 in an effort to expand its inpatient treatment services for boys.
Notices of intent to suspend the Brush Prairie facility’s licenses list three separate allegations of employee sexual misconduct and a pattern of inadequate reporting procedures.
First alleged incident
The health department received a complaint July 25, 2022, that staff at the Brush Prairie facility violated mandatory reporting requirements following the firing of former counselor Kathryn Reinmuth.
In March 2022, a patient reported to Daybreak staff they had been in contact with Reinmuth after being discharged. The patient’s parents told Daybreak staff their child had been in contact with Reinmuth via cellphone and social media, and some of the messages were sexual in nature, the health department said.
Daybreak fired Reinmuth on March 31, 2022, saying she had been dishonest with staff and violated the agency’s ethics policies around communicating with former patients, according to the health department.
Staff did not report Reinmuth’s firing to the health department until June 10, 2022, the notice of intent states. The health department says Washington law requires facilities to report inappropriate incidents within 48 hours and report when an employee is terminated because of unprofessional or harmful conduct.
Second alleged incident
The health department received a second complaint Feb. 8, 2023, regarding former counselor, Alicia Stowe, 34, who has been charged with first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor in Clark County Superior Court. Her trial is scheduled for Oct. 16.
Daybreak CEO Tom Russell previously said Stowe was terminated for performance issues prior to law enforcement reaching out about the criminal investigation. The health department report states Stowe was fired Feb. 10, 2022, for excessive absences and failure to call out of work.
The notice of intent states Daybreak staff did not file a report with the health department after the Clark County Sheriff’s Office informed Daybreak of the investigation. The report also states facility staff didn’t conduct an internal investigation into the allegations. Daybreak’s risk management coordinator said it was because staff did not receive information from deputies. The notice says deputies did provide staff with a summary of the investigation and names of those involved.
Third alleged incident
While investigating the allegations against Stowe, health department investigators became aware of allegations that another counselor, LaRae Swope, had engaged in sexual contact with a patient inside the Brush Prairie facility. Investigators learned Daybreak was served with a civil complaint in March for damages relating to the alleged contact between Swope and the patient, the department said. (In those court records, she is identified as LaRay Swope.)
The patient said that on at least two occasions, Swope initiated sexual contact without the patient’s consent and away from facility cameras, according to the health department.
Swope was fired Nov. 30, 2021, over concerns around her boundaries with patients, the notice states. Daybreak did not report her conduct for firing to the health department until investigators were on site, the notice states.
Lack of cooperation alleged
A search of court records did not show any indication that Reinmuth and Swope have been criminally charged in connection with the investigations. Efforts to reach the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for information were unsuccessful Friday.
The notices also state investigators were concerned over a trend that staff were discouraged by Daybreak leadership from making reports to external agencies, such as the health department, and were coached on how and when to answer questions from investigators.
When health department investigators requested copies of internal investigations into misconduct, the facility asserted there had been no incidents of unprofessional conduct reported to Daybreak Brush Prairie, the report states. The notice also says staff refused to allow investigators to interview current patients. When health department investigators visited the facility, they said Daybreak staff obstructed their investigation and did not cooperate with multiple requests.
Frank Ameduri, a DOH spokesman, said the agency can’t comment on any pending investigations.
“The challenge we’ve had is Daybreak has not been cooperative with those investigations. So, it takes a while. We don’t have the information we need,” he said Friday afternoon. “The suspensions are based, in large part, that they would not cooperate with the investigations.”
In 2018, the health department began investigating and threatened to revoke one of Daybreak’s licenses after Clark County sheriff’s deputies raided the local facility, seizing documents and computers. The sheriff’s office accused Daybreak of failing to report assaults, rapes and other sexual misconduct to law enforcement.
The Brush Prairie facility continued to operate while the investigations were underway. It reached a settlement with the health department in November 2019, agreeing to improve its staffing, training, security and reporting policies.