Death of 7-year old Angellika Arndt results in closure of Northwest’s Rice Lake Clinic
Who will be held accountable for the death of this innocent little girl?
The death of 7-year old Angellika “Angie” Arndt came as a shock to many. Angie attended the Northwest Counseling and Guidance Day Clinic in Rice Lake (Northwest), Wisconsin for one month. During that time, she was allegedly restrained nine times and put on “timeout” 18 times.
According to a report issued by the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS), each restraint lasted one to two hours. Emily Gurnon, Pioneer Press, reported on June 24, that one of these restraints occurred the day before her death, allegedly for “gargling milk.” The following day she was restrained again. This time she lost consciousness, stopped breathing, was airlifted to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, where she never regained consciousness and died.
The Clinic’s president, Denison Tucker, immediately came to the defense of his staff indicating his staff were trained and licensed (though news articled did not indicate what his staff were trained or licensed to do) and followed proper procedures for the hold – the hold that cost Angie her life.
Angie’s mom, Donna Pavlick, would argue the point, saying “if the hold had been performed properly, my daughter would still be alive.” In fact, while Angie was at the Clinic, Donna received a call from their staff and was told Angie had been restrained three times that week. Donna was troubled because she felt they were putting Angie in holds for behavior she had never seen at home. Donna said Angie could throw a fit, but never to the point of hurting herself or others.
The DHFS allegedly issued an Order to the Northwest Clinic stating the use of control holds on patients could not be used unless the situation is so dangerous police must be called.
DHFS reported Angie was restrained nine times for one to two hours each time, once for “gargling milk” and was put in 18 “timeouts”, all within 31 days. The Clinic allegedly:
• Failed to identify the proper level of care for Angie;
• Failed to provide a doctor or nurse;
• Failed to review the number of control holds placed on Angie
• Failed to prove the use of restraints was due to an emergency
• Failed to prove Angie posed imminent danger to self or others as required by State law for putting her in restraint.
According to news articles, Tucker expressed concern with the State that there are, “errors of fact, incomplete context, and misapplication of statute references.”
FACILITY TO CLOSE
Northwest was allegedly given one month to outline a plan of corrections to address recommendations that they severely limit the use of restraints.
Kevin Harter, Pioneer Press, reported on August 1, that Northwest officials failed to adequately address shortcomings cited by the state, meaning its certification will be pulled Aug. 15 and it will lose all county and state funding.
None of Northwest’s other 12 facilities were affected. Northwest was told to find other placements for the 11 remaining children by August 15.
Will those children go to other Northwest facilities? Will other Northwest facilities be investigated to ensure the safety of the children placed in their care?
From the first day Angie walked into the Pavlicks’ lives, they were Mom and Dad. In and out of foster homes since the age of 5, Angie had a rough start. But, she found her place with the Pavlicks. Her new family didn’t mind she threw temper tantrums, they loved her. Angie’s birth mom was happy Angie had found her place.
Angie’s family remembers she had birthday parties at McDonald’s, loved her music, loved to camp with her family, and played with other children. “We made huge gains in her behavior,” Donna said. “Her difficult times could be minutes or an hour out of a whole day. Not ever was a complete day a difficult day.”
Angie was a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a cousin, a niece, and a friend. She was loved and will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know her.
The family will never forget Angie’s smile, her “light-up-your-life” smile.
According to news articles, Angie’s Social Worker recommended Angie attend counseling prior to beginning first grade. Everyone thought this would be a positive move for Angie – when in fact it ultimately cost Angie her life.
Angie’s death was ruled a homicide. According to news articles, Tucker said, “This is as tragic as it gets, I think,” as he continued to support the actions of his staff who claimed Angie was a danger to herself. “We stand behind our staff,” he said, “We know them to be competent professionals and outstanding mental health providers.”
But, Angie was allegedly restrained on her stomach, on the floor, known as “prone” restraint, as one staff member gripped her ankles and another held down her shoulders. A hold the state of Wisconsin indicated could only be used if a child was in danger of hurting themselves or others, a hold that has proved to be deadly for many children, and that is banned in some states.
Stephanie Marquis of the Wisconsin DHFS said, “We found the staff at the facility failed to protect the health and safety of this young girl.”
News articles indicate the Medical Examiner ruled Angie’s death from complications of chest compression asphyxia (suffocation) and cardiopulmonary arrest.
Donna Wrenn, Executive Director of the National Association for the Mentally Ill – Wisconsin, said she was stunned by the medical examiner’s ruling. “It’s a horrible tragedy, it’s unbelievable … someone needs to be held accountable,” she said. She could not imagine anyone needing to hold down a 7-year old little girl to the point of suffocating her.
“Gone from our home, but never gone from our hearts.”
CAICA has investigated restraint deaths and has compiled a list of children who have died in residential settings (see link below). At this time, our list of restraint deaths between 1989 and 2006 has reached 65 – 65 children who have died at the hands of those who were supposed to be there to help them. Between 1988 and 1997 CAICA has reported 27 restraint deaths, and between 1998 and August 2006 we have reported 38 restraint deaths.
Parents in need of help for their children should not have to fear their son or daughter will be abused, neglected, or killed, in the name of treatment. It is time for change, time for reform, time for people to come forward to help in the fight against institutionalized child abuse. We at CAICA applaud the advocacy efforts of others, and hope more will join so that together, we will make a difference.
- Contact Information
- Isabelle Zehnder
- Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse (CAICA)
- Contact via E-mail
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