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DOJ investigating deaths of former Central Virgnia Training Center patients

By March 2020, all individuals must be discharged and the facilitys buildings and operations must be totally closed by June 30, 2020.
By March 2020, all individuals must be discharged and the facilitys buildings and operations must be totally closed by June 30, 2020. (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

AMHERST COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the deaths of three patients who were transferred out of the Central Virginia Training Center in Amherst County last January.

One of those deaths was 23-year-old Tyler Bryant, whose mother Martha fought for months to keep him there.

Now, three state legislators in the Amherst area say they want to know why it was so urgent to move these patients in the first place.

One of those legislators is State Senator Mark Peake.

"The facility is slated to close in 2020. Why they had to be moved in January with almost no notice, we'd like to know that, and that's what this investigation needs to find out," said Peake.

To answer that question, WSLS got Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Dr. Bill Hazel, on the phone.

He blamed the move on staffing issues.

"It is very clear that Central Virginia Training Center has struggled with staffing. The decision was made to close the unit because it was felt that we could not maintain a quality level of care over a long period of time with the challenges we were having," said Hazel.

But Peake said those "challenges" were nothing compared to what the Bryants were forced to face.

"They were stable where they were, and I think Miss Bryant knew it, and I think we all knew it, that if you started moving Taylor and Tyler around, it would, it could lead to very bad consequences," said Peake.

For Tyler Bryant, those consequences cost him his life.

Bryant had lived at the Central Virginia Training Center for more than 20 years, and according to his mother, had not been hospitalized for an illness since 2015.

Still, Hazel said Hiram Davis Hospital was "The appropriate place for those training center residents."

"I think it's important to recognize though, that it is not clear to anyone yet that transfers have caused deaths," said Hazel.

That clarity is something the DOJ investigation is trying to but Peake and two other legislators also want to see a separate investigation conducted by the Inspector General.

"We need to know, will we be able to provide sufficient medical care to these citizens and these patients, who are the sickest among us, if they are moved out of these facilities?"​ said Peake.

Martha Bryant's second son Taylor is currently in the care of Hiram Davis.

According to State Senator Steve Newman, he has already come down with Pneumonia since being moved, and Martha is working to get him into another facility.