Sundance Behavioral Health Hospital Ceases Operations, Surrenders License

Company surrenders license amid criminal probe

An Arlington mental health hospital currently under criminal indictment is no longer accepting patients and has surrendered their license and ceased operations.

Varghese Summersett, the law firm representing Sundance Behavioral Healthcare System, released a statement Friday saying they can't afford to stay open while defending themselves in court and that they've transferred all of their patients elsewhere.

"Due to the ongoing criminal prosecution, Sundance Behavioral Healthcare System is financially unable to sustain services to the mental health population in our community. As a result, the hospital voluntarily brought its patient count to zero. On December 21, Sundance surrendered their license to Health and Human Services and is no longer accepting patients," the law firm said Friday.

Sundance Behavioral Health was charged last month with holding patients against their will, a charge the company has denied.

Investigators alleged Sundance illegally detained patients for longer than 48 hours and, in some cases, also allegedly refused to allow voluntary patients to leave the facility.

In November, Elida Colunga told NBC 5 she felt like a prisoner at the hospital. Colunga, who has bipolar disorder, said she was transferred to the Arlington hospital after checking herself into John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth for treatment after she ran out of medicine and didn't sleep for three days.

Colunga said for 11 days she was kept at the Arlington hospital against her will and was not allowed any contact with her husband.

Additionally, NBC DFW obtained hundreds of pages of inspection reports of the hospital from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which licenses private psychiatric facilities, and learned inspectors had visited Sundance numerous times, often unannounced, and that time after time they found examples of inadequate care and substandard conditions.

Despite repeated violations, the hospital only paid two fines in the past two years: $28,500 in August 2016 for violations dating to the previous year and $650 in 2017 for not holding required fire drills.

A press officer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Christine Mann, called some of the incidents at the hospital "very disturbing."

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, who filed the criminal complaints, had no comment on the company's announcement Friday.

Sundance Behavioral Healthcare System has hospitals in Arlington, Garland and Fort Worth.

NBC 5's Scott Gordon, Jack Highberger and Frank Heinz contributed to this report.

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