Kansas addiction treatment organization settles case alleging discrimination of HIV, AIDS patients

U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said executives at Valley Hope Association signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve allegations of unfair treatment of clients with the AIDS virus. (Submitted)

A Kansas addiction treatment organization agreed to a $25,000 penalty to settle a discrimination complaint alleging segregation of HIV or AIDS patients at residential facilities and prevention of these clients from taking part in certain activities, federal officials said Friday.


U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said Valley Hope Association executives signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve a complaint that the Americans with Disabilities Act was violated by special rules applicable to individuals with HIV or AIDS.

The agreement resolved allegations Valley Hope offered services on a less-than-equal basis, Beall said.

Dan Lara, spokesman for Valley Hope, said federal regulations prohibited comment on the specific case. The association cooperated with the U.S. attorney’s office to remedy “this technical violation,” Lara said.

“Valley Hope makes it a priority to treat all patients with dignity and respect as they work to overcome the disease of addiction,” he said.

The association operates 16 treatment facilities in seven states. The Kansas centers are located in Atchison, Moundridge, Overland Park, Wichita and Norton.

Federal officials said an investigation revealed the nonprofit organization had a policy or practice of requiring patients with HIV or AIDS to stay in separate rooms while taking part in residential treatment unless they revealed their medical status to potential roommates.

In addition, allegations surfaced Valley Hope prevented these patients from joining in certain work activities at residential facilities.

The deal required Valley Hope to pay $20,000 to the complainant and a $5,000 civil penalty.

Valley Hope also agreed to establish rules requiring that individuals with disabilities have full access to goods, services, facilities and accommodations available at the organization’s treatment centers in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas and Arizona.

Valley Hope must adopt a nondiscrimination policy posted at each treatment facility and on the website, Beall said. In addition, annual training on the ADA has to be provided to employees and contractors of Valley Hope.

Pat George, Valley Hope’s president and chief executive officer since 2015 and a former secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce, wasn’t available to comment on the settlement. Valley Hope’s website said George was dedicated to helping individuals suffering from addiction “one person at a time, honorably and respectfully.”

Valley Hope celebrated its 50th anniversary in August with an event attended by Kansas political figures that honored 300,000 people the organization had helped overcome addiction.



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