Kelowna youth treatment centre shut down by government
UPDATE: Former youth counsellor comes forward after lawsuits filed against NeurVana
Three families are suing a private youth treatment centre in Kelowna claiming their children were mistreated and bullied before being abruptly removed from the home by the provincial government.
The NeurVana Recovery and Wellness Centre advertises the use of advanced neuro-technology to "harmonize the brains" of the youths it treats.
I was really concerned about my son- Sandra Colquhoun
The province says the facility was operating without a license.
Documents filed by the families in B.C. Supreme Court allege owners David and Susan Kenney told them NeurVana was a licensed and qualified residential care facility for teenagers struggling with diagnosed psychological conditions, including depression and drug addiction.
Sandra Colquhoun of Burnaby, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, says she hoped NeurVana could help her 16-year-old son overcome his marijuana addiction. She says she was told it could also help him with a wide range of psychological issues.
"You know if he had any other anxiety issues or self-esteem issues, they said they most definitely could help with them."
Her family paid $20,000 for a three-week stay.
Two weeks later government officials told her to come pick up her son. NeurVana was being closed for not having a license.
"I was really concerned about my son and from there I found out what happened to him, what he had been through and he was very traumatized."
Colquhoun says her son lost 20 pounds while at NeurVana and was threatened and ridiculed.
Another family, who paid $25,000 for their daughter's care, allege in court documents their daughter felt as if she was in a prison, and was not allowed to access her belongings or phone home.
A third family says they also paid $25,000 only to have their daughter suffer a panic attack after she was bullied and denied her prescription medication for depression.
Former NeurVana counsellor speaks out
A former patient who became a counsellor at NeurVana has also come forward to share her story. Danielle Downs spent nearly four weeks at the Kelowna youth treatment centre two years ago.
During that time Downs says she found the owners David and Susan Kenney manipulative and verbally abusive. She says she left when David Kenney said insulting things about her parents and accused her of inappropriate relations with another counsellor.
"I originally thought I trusted them. That's why I agreed to go. I felt used and I was really hurt. They are just...I've never seen anything like that and it took a while to recover as you can see."
David Kenney, is the brother of federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney.
However, there is no evidence the cabinet minister was involved in the facility in any way. Kenney's office declined to comment, saying the case has nothing to do with the federal government.
The court documents laying out the basis of the lawsuit are allegations and only represent one side of the story. They have not yet been proven in court.
The families are suing to get their money back and are also seeking general and special damages.