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Video: Residential psychiatric home draws numerous complaints after opening last year


Note: This article contains mentions of mental illness and suicide. If you are in crisis, please call, text or chat with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Video by Michelle Baker

A residential psychiatric facility opened in a northwest Reno neighborhood last year. Neighbors two years ago said they feared the worst when construction on an addition to the home began. To their surprise, they learned the property was designated as a treatment home for youth struggling with severe mental illness. 

“Sai Residential Treatment Center offers a safe and comfortable treatment program for teens in our community. All residents will live in a beautiful home-like setting in order to foster a sense of safety in their treatment journey,” company representatives said in a paid article last year on This Is Reno. By regulation, such residential facilities can have up to 10 patients.

Neighbors were criticized two years ago by numerous people online for opposing the location of the facility. People condemned what they called NIMBY-ism and ableist attitudes by the neighbors expressing their concerns.

Since opening, however, the home has been the source of numerous police, fire and REMSA calls, and the residents said the home, called the Strong Minds Residential Treatment Center, has turned their neighborhood into a nightmare.

Jill Stockton, who spoke to This Is Reno in May of 2022 about the facility—which had not yet opened—said the youth patients claim they are being abused. 911 calls obtained by This Is Reno show that patients have threatened suicide, may have had access to weapons, and there have been runaways from the home on a number of occasions.

A steady stream of police, fire and emergency medical service calls has disrupted what residents say was once a quiet neighborhood with minimal police presence.

“A Reno PD police cruiser came up our street … and stopped my son and his two friends who were riding bikes,” Stockton wrote in a complaint she made about the facility in February. “The policewoman asked [them] if they knew of a kid in a red shirt who had escaped from the home. 

“The cop then revealed to me, because I walked over to her and my son and his two friends talking to see what was going on, that the kid had escaped from the psychiatric residential treatment facility and was found in someone’s backyard,” she added. “The person whose yard the escapee was in called the cops, and this is why they came up my street. The cop told me that the boy who escaped said he was escaping because of abuse.”

Stockton said her concern is largely for the youth at the home.

“I am very concerned for the welfare of the patients,” she said. “The workers are also coming and going at all hours of the night. The workers also do not appear to be skilled or qualified to care for these patients. There doesn’t seem to be any leadership or proper care given to these patients.”

The facility’s owner, psychiatrist Dharmendra Goyal with Sai Mental Health, said complaints against the facility are not true, and he is going to take legal action against those complaining about the home. 

“One day in March, there were four police cars here for hours. Another stayed for two hours to contain one kid.”

“One particular [person is making complaints], and we’re going to legal action accordingly against that person,” Goyal said just before hanging up on this reporter.

Jeanette Bussey, CEO of Sai Mental Health, left a voicemail after the call to Goyal. She said neighbor complaints are “completely fictitious.” She did not return calls to This Is Reno to answer additional questions.

This Is Reno spoke with a half-dozen residents who said a facility that treats people suffering from severe mental illness does not belong in a residential area. Most said they did not want to be named for this story.

Numerous calls for police, fire service

Stockton called the police and fire calls a nuisance.

“We have had more and more suicide attempts and more and more escapes from the home since December 2023,” she said. “There are more and more responses to the home from Reno PD, Reno Fire, REMSA and others. This is a burden to our public responders.”

Records obtained by This Is Reno confirm the house is the source of numerous complaints and calls for service. A call in late December indicated nurses in the home could not “contain” a subject who was “causing a disturbance.” The call indicates the subject “should not have access to weapons.”

A call in October of 2023 documented that a patient ran away from the facility “refusing to return…and telling other neighbors they don’t want to be there.”

A 911 call in September shows emergency responders were told not to engage patients who ran away until police arrived. Videos provided to This Is Reno shows at least once patient being removed from the house on a stretcher, others escorted by police and a number of emergency vehicles were called to the home in recent months.

Neighbors said they have had to install security cameras all around their homes. Brian Colonna is one neighbor to the home.

“We’ve added cameras all over our house,” Colonna told This Is Reno. “These children have been running away … and they have been running away in groups of three at a time. Homeowners have been encountering them in their backyards.”

Another resident said the treatment facility has completely disrupted the neighborhood.

“We can hear them fighting in the backyard,” she said. “We’re afraid to keep our garage door open. It’s a scary situation when you have three or four police cars at a time. It’s just unsafe. It’s very scary. The police department even said they were not being supervised correctly. I feel sorry for them.

“We don’t need this shit,” she added.

Another resident said the neighborhood was great until the facility opened.

“We worry about the first responders,” the resident said. “It takes them 10 to 20 minutes to get here. We don’t know why the doctor moved [to this neighborhood]. We feel strongly about this.”

“They are in a residential home that’s not designed for the type of diagnoses they may have.”

Yet another resident said she also is concerned for the patients.

“I don’t feel like there is control over what is happening there,” the resident said. “Clearly, they’re there to do a business. It’s really sad for the neighborhood. I feel for the patients. That’s not the proper place for them to be. It is very alarming. It’s a really sad deal for everybody involved.”

Another neighbor described what she called “an altercation” with a nearby homeowner with a resident from the facility.

“When these kids run away, one kid had an altercation with a homeowner up the streets. That is really unsettling,” she added. “One day in March, there were four police cars here for hours. Another stayed for two hours to contain one kid. He looked maybe 16. We don’t know what’s going on in there.” 

Dozens of complaints filed to city and state 

Neighbors have complained to City of Reno officials, who said there is nothing they can do about the facility. A city spokesperson did not respond to questions about the facility.

An inspection by state health officials detailed the "elopement" of two youth patients in September of 2023.
An inspection by state health officials detailed the “elopement” of two youth patients in September of 2023.

“Group Homes are allowed by right in all residential zoning districts, and no public hearing or public notice is required,” Amy Pennington with the city wrote to Stockton in 2022. “This applicant had to go through a building permit process, and they are required to get licensed through the State of Nevada as a Group Home.”

Colonna, who works in healthcare compliance, said the city’s determination the home is a group home is not accurate. 

“The safety of the patients is my top priority,” he said. “They are in a residential home that’s not designed for the type of diagnoses they may have. [City officials] were told it’s just a ‘group home,’ but a group home is typically a low-acuity setting. The purpose of a group home is to keep the residents connected with the community.

“In these facilities, children are not allowed any outside contact,” he added. “They are not allowed to leave. A group home is entirely different from what we have here. This is not a community-based solution.”

Stockton filed complaints with the state of Nevada’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health, which regulates such facilities. 

“This psychiatric residential treatment facility/business is a problem,” Stockton said. “I, and my neighbors, don’t want to see [and] know these child-patients are escaping like this—and without any visible security measures, locks, etc.—this is very scary and concerning for the neighborhood.”

About a dozen complaints have been filed with the state. Complaints included workers blocking sidewalks with their vehicles, fire alarms going off, welfare checks, youth fighting and screaming, patients running away and a runaway trespassing on private property.

A state health official said two complaints against the facility last year “could not be substantiated due to lack of evidence.” 

Findings against the facility in one inspection, however, show staff administered incorrect dosages of medications to patients, one patient lacked a treatment plan after being admitted, patients had been running away from the home, and kitchen knives were “unsecured in a drawer with a lock, but that lock was not being used at [a specific] time.

“Access to mental health services in Nevada is atrocious.”

“When the Chef of the facility was asked why the knife drawer was not locked, the Chef stated that the residents know not to go into the kitchen unattended, but could not provide an explanation as to why the drawer was not locked,” state officials documented in a report. Staff were told to keep the drawer locked.

More complaints have been filed since then, according to records provided to This Is Reno, but state officials did not have inspection reports available online.

“While not commenting about this facility specifically, closing a facility would involve many layers, each of which would involve the Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance working with the facility to bring them into compliance with regulations so they can serve the Nevadans who need their services,” said Nathan Orme with the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

Limited mental health services available

A person involved in the local behavioral health field said the patients in this facility should be in a closed environment where they cannot escape into residential neighborhoods. A residence is not the proper type of place for people with severe mental illness to be treated, the source said.

The need for such facilities, however, is dire, especially after West Hills closed in 2021, leaving the region with limited options for youth mental health treatment in a state that is the worst in the country for mental health. Both Goyal and Bussey were part of West Hills and appear to have shifted similar operations from there to the northwest Reno home.

“Shortly after we found out that the hospital was closing, Dr. Goyal approached me and we discussed the huge loss in our community of mental health services and what we can do about that,” Bussey said, according to reporting by News Channel 2. “We are not giving up on the people in our community, we understand the need is there.”

Health experts have warned for years that Nevada lacks access to basic mental health services.

“Nevada has consistently ranked 51st for youth mental health access and services in national reports,” a state of Nevada mental health report noted last year. 

A report in the Nevada Current last year was more blunt: 

“Access to mental health services in Nevada is atrocious,” wrote Elia Del Carmen Solan-Patricio with Brookings Mountain West at UNLV. “The state ranks 51st nationally in overall mental health and last again for similar categories in youth mental health. Statewide, there is one mental health professional for every 460 residents, and every Nevada county is federally designated as having a mental health provider shortage.

“Unfortunately, this is not news.”

Stockton said her child began sleeping with a baseball bat under his bed after an incident in March that drew a number of police vehicles and ambulances to the Sai Residential Treatment Center, near her house.

“His mental health is suffering because of what we are seeing… How is this acceptable?” she asked. “Once my son got safely inside our home on March 7, he was rattled by the policeman’s tone and demeanor with my husband when my husband went outside to inquire why the cop was parked in front of our home. 

“My husband asked the officer if everything was okay. The officer was rude and dismissive and gave a flippant response of, ‘Yep. Things are just peachy.’”

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Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.




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