PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — An investigation is now underway after a state inspector confirmed the Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center on 11th Street in Panama City has mold and other issues.
A complaint filed on the matter claimed that the children housed inside the facility and the staff members who work there had been sick for months but were ordered to keep quiet.
Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice told News 13 they are now working to clean up the mold and repair any leaks that may have caused the issue. They said the mold was discovered on the walls after cabinets were removed from the walls during a construction project.
Following the inspection, DJJ is now conducting a full review of the detention center including an air quality study. In his report, the inspector noted that DJJ staff were already dealing with the mold issue but had not communicated their response to the entire staff.
The inspector wrote this lack of communication contributed to the complaint and better communication could prevent future issues. The inspector also noted more than 20 separate tasks, most of them involving cleaning the facility, that should be done in the immediate future.
The inspector noted that cold and flu symptoms were common in the area at this time and it was unclear if any health issues were connected to the mold.
“The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s top priority is the wellbeing of the youth in our care and the staff who work with them,” DJJ Communications Director Amanda Slama said in a statement to News 13. “As soon as this issue was discovered at the Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center, DJJ took immediate action to correct it. DJJ is now conducting a full review of the detention center, including an air quality study. If additional concerns arise, DJJ will immediately address and remedy them to ensure the health of our youth and staff.”