The state Health Department has fined the operators of two Big Island teen treatment facilities $13,300, and ordered them to close down because they were run without proper licenses.
The department’s Office of Health Care and Assurance issued a notice of violation and order to Christopher Kaiser, Michael McKinney, Suzanne McKinney and Mark Agosto of Pacific Quest Corp. for running the two illegal facilities — one at 15-1973 4th Ave. and the other 15-1736 22nd Ave. — in Keaau.
Kaiser is the co-founder of the company, while Michael McKinney serves as president, Suzanne McKinney as vice president, and Agosto as treasurer, according to the department.
“We cannot stress the importance for families to research licensed special treatment facilities or therapeutic living programs for their loved ones in need of care,” said Keith Ridley, OHCA chief, in a news release. “If they are uncertain whether the facility is licensed or suspect unusual activity, they should contact the Department of Health.”
On its website, Pacific Quest describes itself as program serving struggling teens ages 13 to 17 with a unique, wilderness therapy program by offering a “holistic approach to health and wellness.” In addition to starting a whole foods diet, participants engage in daily exercise and organic gardening to learn life skills.
OHCA said it made an unannounced visit to the two facilities in response to complaints.
Upon investigation, it determined that Pacific Quest Corp. was operating the special treatment facilities, or therapeutic living programs, for young adults, illegally.
A special treatment facility provides a therapeutic residential program for the care, diagnosis, treatment or rehabilitation of socially or emotionally distressed persons, mentally ill persons, those suffering from substance abuse, and developmentally disabled persons.
A therapeutic living program offers a supervised living arrangement with mental health and substance abuse services or supportive services to those transitioning to independent living.
Neither facility had valid licenses issued by OHCA.
The state Health Department said Pacific Quest Corp. must also comply with the following:
>> Transfer or discharge all residents to a licensed special treatment facility or therapeutic living program or their legal guardian within seven calendar days of receipt of the notice;
>> Notify OHCA in writing within one calendar day that the illegal facilities identified above have ceased operations , and have safely transfered all residents to licensed facilities or legal guardians, plus provide their names and addresses.
>> Pay a $13,300 fine, which is based on a penalty of $100 for each day of unlicensed operation from Aug. 27, 2019 to Jan. 17, 2020, or a total of 133 days. The transfer or discharge date is seven calendar days from the date of the receipt of notice.
>> Disclose the location of any other special treatment facility or therapeutic living program operated by Pacific Quest Corp. or any other entity, agency, or organization owned, managed, or operated in the same manner as 15-1973 4th Avenue and 15-1736 22nd Avenue in Keeau, plus cease their operations.
Under state law, Pacific Quest can request a hearing to contest the notice within 20 days.