NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Report finds McCall's Chapel CEO verbally abused clients

McCall's Chapel School in Ada, Okla. [The Oklahoman archives]
McCall's Chapel School in Ada, Okla. [The Oklahoman archives]

State health officials have rejected a plan to reinstate the chief executive of an Ada residential care facility who was suspended for verbally abusing staff and two cognitively impaired clients.

McCall's Chapel CEO Nina Peschka was suspended by her board of directors on Aug. 30 after the client abuse allegations were substantiated by inspectors with the Long Term Care Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

"If you work here long enough, you will be humiliated," an employee told investigators. "She is very explosive. ... She creates these islands of terror."

Peschka denies the allegations, her attorney said.

McCall's Chapel must put an acceptable plan of correction in place by Dec. 1 or its ability to receive Medicaid reimbursement dollars for services to clients will be terminated, said Mike Cook, director of Long Term Care Service for the Oklahoma Department of Health.

The nonprofit organization also faces substantial civil penalties of up to $140,000 based on the findings, he said.

Peschka "cursed and yelled at two clients" while questioning them about an incident, an employee told Health Department investigators. One of the two clients "hung his head and locked up" and has been less communicative since the incident, the employee stated.

It wasn't an isolated incident, reports indicate.

Ten employees told health inspectors they had witnessed "periodic screaming/yelling episodes by the CEO throughout the facilities."

"When asked if any of the incidents had been reported, several employees indicated that there had been times in the past when employees had reported such incidents but were then terminated from the company soon afterwards," the inspection report said. "Some of the employees stated they had looked up the facility's policy and procedures for filing a grievance due to verbal abuse and the policy documented all grievances had to be given to the CEO.

"The employees all agreed many past employees had either resigned due to the behaviors of the CEO or had been terminated in retaliation for voicing or making complaints against ... her."

Twelve clients reported "episodes of fear due to verbal abuse by the CEO," the report said.

"Mrs. Peschka denies these allegations," said her attorney, Carrie L Burnsed.

Burnsed called the allegations "serious" and noted Peschka has served McCall's Chapel School Inc.'s clients with mental disabilities for 15 years.

The CEO, herself, told inspectors she had yelled at a nurse and acknowledged attending anger management training in the past, the Health Department's inspection report said.

After suspending Peschka, the board of directors was required to develop a plan of correction for fixing the problem.

The board suggested reinstating Peschka, with restrictions.

Board members proposed requiring the CEO to attend a 4-hour anger management course and prohibiting her from supervising or engaging in direct contact with McCall's clients. The board also proposed limiting Peschka's interactions to "McCall's supervisory administrative staff members only" and banning her from any "supervision, direction or correction of clinical nursing staff."

In addition, the board proposed changing its abuse reporting process so that suspected abuse by the CEO or any other manager or staff member would be reported to Sharon Stone, as grievance coordinator, rather than Peschka.

State health officials rejected that plan Friday, Cook said.

The McCall's Chapel board of directors has 10 days from the date of rejection to present an amended plan, Cook said.

Cook said Health Department investigators found that the CEO's actions placed clients in seven of McCall's Chapel's facilities in immediate jeopardy.

Civil penalties ranging from $3,050 to $10,000 per day can be imposed for each of the seven facilities for the time clients were deemed to be in immediate jeopardy, Cook said.

In this case, the clients were deemed to be in immediate jeopardy for two days, with the designation removed following the suspension of the CEO and other corrective measures taken to resolve the immediate crisis, he said.

The actual monetary penalty will not be decided until the Health Department gathers more information and McCall's Chapel comes into compliance or is terminated from the Medicaid program, Cook said.

Randy Ellis

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two... Read more ›