A day in the life of Michael Campbell

Michael works as a psychiatric technician caring for those at Southwest Idaho Treatment Center

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Michael Campbell records medication as he hands it out to the residents of Southwest Idaho Treatment Center early one morning this summer.

When you meet Michael Campbell, your first impression might be of an avid outdoorsman, his skin tanned from hiking in the hot Idaho sun. His jeans and blue T-shirt (with a frog on it) would make you think he is more worried about comfort than fashion. His warm smile and easy-going manner will give you the feeling that he’s living an easy, comfortable life.

His actual daily routine is demanding, exhausting, and sometimes heartbreaking. It would be overwhelming to most of us.

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Chalk drawings decorate the patio of one of the residential units at SWITC.

Michael got his tan by spending many hours in the hot sun drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk with the people he calls his family. The frog on his T-shirt is intentional and helps to draw the attention of residents at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) as he hands out medications. “What’s this on my shirt? You think it’s a frog? You’re a smart guy. I’m so proud of you,” he says to a resident. His smile is because he loves what he does. His easy-going manner is what keeps him a favorite among staff and residents.

Michael has spent close to 40,000 hours or 19 years “on the floor” as he calls it. His job is tough, and it’s not for everyone. But his job as a psychiatric technician, or psych tech, is his passion. He spends his days making sure the current SWITC residents have a home away from home. He wants them to feel protected, loved, and honored. The residents may be autistic or have other developmental disabilities. They may sometimes harm themselves or others. Some are unable to communicate. Some need one-to-one care all day, every day. Michael simply wants to help them live their best life as they continue their journey to self-sufficiency.

The primary responsibility of a psych tech is to implement the person-centered plan for each resident. This plan includes skills training, medication administration, and behavioral training support. At SWITC, there are currently 45 psych tech positions. The psych techs do not have standard shifts, but they do have their own shift usually working 8 to 10 hours. Jamie Newton, SWITC administrator, said they discovered that not having groups of employees come in or leave at the same time lessened anxiety among the residents. Continue reading

SWITC complaint is unsubstantiated, survey says

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is pleased to announce that a complaint investigation at Southwest Idaho Treatment Center has been completed, and the conclusion of the third-party survey team is that the complaint is unsubstantiated.

“I am so pleased to see our efforts recognized in the outcome of this survey,” said SWITC Administrator Jamie Newton. “We have been working diligently to update policies, procedures, and practice to address the issues we discovered in the summer of 2017. This is good news.” Continue reading

DHW Director: DisAbility Rights Idaho report is inaccurate and incomplete

A troubling report released today by DisAbility Rights Idaho presents an inaccurate and incomplete picture of our operations at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa.

The report makes some serious allegations about our staff and our ability to provide a safe home for the residents of SWITC. None of the issues raised in the report are new or recent. In fact, all of the issues have been and continue to be addressed. While we appreciate and respect the work done by DisAbility Rights Idaho, we have serious issues with a report that contains numerous factual inaccuracies. Information gained during our own investigations and licensure surveys has led to increased emphasis on ensuring the safety of our residents and our employees. We have done our best to be transparent. But we are also bound by privacy and confidentiality laws that limit what we can say. We are not able to provide the additional context necessary to tell the entire story.

Contrary to what the report says, we first notified media and the public in August 2017 when we identified inappropriate and abusive employee behavior that was not meeting our standards. We launched an extensive internal investigation into the allegations. As a result, six employees were terminated. However, the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges based on the Nampa Police Department investigation.

A licensure survey last summer and follow-up surveys resulted in several findings that we are continuing to address. SWITC has implemented plans of correction that also must be approved and checked as part of the licensure surveys.

SWITC annual licensure survey ended this past week.  It was a full survey that looked at SWITC’s compliance with more than 470 federal regulations. The surveyors also conducted a complaint investigation, addressing some of the same allegations DRI makes in its report. The survey team reviewed many of the abuse investigation reports from 2017 and 2018 and interviewed clients, staff, parents, guardians, and agencies, including Adult Protection Services.  Continue reading

Six SWITC employees disciplined for abuse, neglect of residents

NAMPA – The Department of Health and Welfare has finished its investigation into allegations of physical and psychological abuse and neglect by staff members involving seven adult residents at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa.

The investigation revealed a localized issue involving six employees. Disciplinary action up to and including termination has been taken against all the employees who were found to have engaged in conduct considered abuse and/or neglect. They have either voluntarily left employment or were terminated for cause.

The investigation determined there were two main perpetrators who psychologically and/or physically abused residents. There was no sexual abuse.

Four employees were aware of the psychological abuse by the two employees and did not report it, which constitutes neglect. Continue reading

Health & Welfare investigating allegations of abuse and neglect at Southwest Idaho Treatment Center

NAMPA – The Department of Health and Welfare is investigating allegations of physical and psychological abuse and neglect by staff members involving seven adult residents at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa.

SWITC’s mission is to provide assessment, training, and treatment to people with intellectual disabilities until they can be safely transitioned back into their communities. SWITC currently has 25 residents and 109 permanent and temporary employees.

“These actions go against everything we stand for and are being treated with the utmost urgency,” said DHW Director Russ Barron. “The safety of residents is our highest concern and priority, especially in this challenging environment. We follow procedures that ensure the safety and dignity of those in our care. I am extremely disappointed that some staff have not followed those procedures. They will be disciplined, including dismissal if the circumstances are warranted.” Continue reading