The performance of the Peace River Outward Bound
program in DeSoto County where a boy became ill and died last summer
was rated "acceptable," according to an annual evaluation by the
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice released Thursday.
The report, which is based on a June 26-30 on-site
inspection by a DJJ "quality assurance" team, does not critique the
actions of Outward Bound staffers who responded to the medical needs
of Dillon Peak, the 14-year-old Punta Gorda boy who died June 17.
However, the facility earned enough low scores in
several of nine performance categories to be considered in
"non-compliance" with the DJJ's contract standards, according to the
DJJ's 35-page "Quality Assurance" report.
"During this review, the Quality Assurance team was
sensitive to the recent tragic death of one of the youth," states
the report. "Further explanation of this incident would be
inappropriate in this report until the finalization of the pending
Peak had been a resident of the facility for nearly
6 months when he first became ill around May 14. A program staffer
found he had a fever of 104, according to his mother, Pamela Peak.
She said staffers took her son to DeSoto Memorial Hospital.
He was treated and released back to Outward Bound
where he resided in a tent with several other boys, his mother said.
Four days later, staffers found the boy incoherent.
Again he was taken to the hospital and subsequently transported to
All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.
At some point, he slipped into coma from which never
emerged, his mother said.
Doctors have theorized that Peak initially had a
strep infection and later contracted encephalitis, a mosquito-borne
virus that can cause neurological damage and death, according to
The Pinellas County Medical Examiner is awaiting the
results of neurological tests before completing a report on the
cause of death, said Bill Pellan, spokesman for the examiner's
The 35-bed Peace River Outward Bound facility,
located along Horse Creek in southwestern DeSoto County, offers a
wilderness experience for boys who have been committed to a low-risk
residential program by the juvenile court system.
The program earned low scores of "partial
compliance" or "non-compliance" on a half-dozen of some 17 standards
for its health care services.
For example, the report noted that the DJJ requires
its contractors to designate a health authority, such as a local
physician, which Peace River had done. But the inspection team found
that Peace River's designated medical authority had signed an
agreement that failed to spell out the doctor's on-call availability
and responsibilities. As a result, Peace River was given a score of
"zero" on a scale of zero to nine on that standard.
The report also gave a low score of "1" to Peace
River's management of pharmaceutical drugs. The "bulk storage" of
over-the-counter medications was inadequate "due to lack of humidity
and temperature control," the report states.
Also, there were two youths who had documented
problems either obtaining medications when prescribed or having
prescriptions refilled, according to the report. In one case, the
boy went four days without a prescription medication due to Medicaid
not approving payment.
The issue was resolved by Peace River paying for the
prescription, but the medication lapse was not documented in the
boy's medical records, the report states.
The program's first-aid and emergency care received
a "satisfactory" rating. However, documentation on treatments
provided were "inconsistently recorded," the report states.
The program earned several "superior" ratings,
including for the recreation and leisure activities provided at the
Those activities include one hour of physical
education daily in which youths run laps. The facility has also
acquired equipment such as pingpong tables and board games in
response to suggestions from a "student council," the report states.
The program also earned a superior rating for
offering faith and community activities. Faith-based volunteers
visit the facility twice weekly and Peace River also arranged for a
Buddhist volunteer, the report states.
Peace River was rated "satisfactory" on a majority
of standards, including on "behavior management" and "consequences
and sanctions" for misconduct, the report states.
The facility garnered a low score of 3 for its
mental health plan. The plan, which calls for services to youths
according to their needs, failed to require treatment plans to be
reviewed monthly and failed to include certain aspects of substance
Jon Howard, director of the Peace River Outward
Bound, declined comment on the report. He cited the fact he was not
aware of the report until late Thursday.
Tara Collins, spokeswoman for the DJJ, also said the
department was not immediately able to comment.