TAMPA — Tampa Bay Academy is admitting patients again.
The youth mental health facility has accepted four patients into its Riverview residential treatment center over the past month and a half, director Rich Warden said, and is gradually moving toward admitting more.
The move comes three months after state officials reached a settlement agreement with the academy, giving it 180 days to correct problems raised when the Agency for Health Care Administration put a moratorium on admissions and temporarily suspended its license.
State concerns over claims of employee and patient abuse forced the academy to lay off 125 people and find new placements for all of its 54 patients.
Warden said dealing with those personnel issues wasn't fun, but he thinks the process of restructuring the program from the bottom up has been a good one.
"I think it gave us a chance to rebuild the treatment team and really make the program clinically sound," he said.
Warden said the center retained and retrained 20 of its best staff members.
As the center admits more patients — each with state approval — it will restart the hiring process.
The residential treatment program is designed to provide psychiatric treatment for youths ages 4 to 17 who are struggling with eating disorders, chronic anxiety, drug abuse and sexual abuse, among other things.
Warden said the administration will be careful not to admit children whose needs exceed the scope of the services available at the center.
"We turned away some patients — those whose problems were too acute, too severe," he said. "In the past, we accepted some patients who should have been in a higher level of care."
Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3383.