PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4) – Already under fire for a disturbing video showing a police officer punching and pepper spraying a 14 year old girl, the Citrus Health Treatment Center for adolescents in Pembroke Pines is facing a new crisis: the unexplained death of a different child in their care.
The child died at a hospital on Friday.
According to a statement from the chief attorney for the youth psychiatric facility, the child was “experiencing stomach pains and fever beginning Sunday, a week ago,” said attorney Josephine Van Hemert.
“He was released by and returned to the hospital twice. Our pediatrician kept insisting that the hospital not release him,” said Van Hermert.
The child was readmitted on Wednesday where he remained until he died last Friday.
The family has requested an autopsy to find out what happened. There is no proven connection between this case and other recent media reports regarding Citrus.
The death of a child raises concerns for families who have children at the center. Wanda Caliman said she has voiced her concerns since her 14 year old grandson was admitted to Citrus last November.
“We assumed it was a therapy treatment center but it is more like a juvenile justice center when they are bulled by staff,” she said.
Caliman said her grandson has told her that incidents like the 14 year old being punched have happened before.
“He has told us other boys are being subjected to that behavior,” said Caliman.
She is heartbroken a child has passed away.
“No one should have to die because they are there to get help,” said Caliman.
Caliman is hoping the child wasn’t neglected because she says it has happened to her personally.
“On many occasions we would see he was swelling up and shaking and requested help. It took months to get him to see a doctor.”
Caliman says it’s time the state step in and for other parents who have concerns to speak up.
“They need to be policed because no one is accountable for their actions.”
The state said it cannot comment on the ongoing investigation into Citrus.