State fines Duluth methadone clinic againAlready facing revocation of its license, the only methadone treatment center in Northeastern Minnesota has been slapped with an $800 fine for continued licensing violations.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Already facing revocation of its license, the only methadone treatment center in Northeastern Minnesota has been slapped with an $800 fine for continued licensing violations.
A certified letter sent by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to the Lake Superior Treatment Center’s parent company in Florida on Nov. 16 cited excessive caseloads and violations of treatment-plan requirements based on inspections beginning Oct. 1.
The investigator “determined that the Lake Superior Treatment Center continues to violate chemical dependency treatment licensing requirements,” the letter stated.
It states the fine will be stayed if the clinic requests a “contested case hearing.”
A woman who answered the phone at the clinic said the program director would not comment to the media.
E-mails requesting comments from executives of the parent company, Colonial Management Group of Orlando, Fla., were not answered by Wednesday’s deadline.
The Department of Human Services announced on Sept. 21 that it was revoking the center’s license, the first time it has moved to revoke a methadone treatment center’s license. The treatment center appealed, and it continues to operate. A preconference hearing before the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings has been set for Dec. 6. On the same day, members of the Minnesota House and Senate are scheduled to conduct a hearing on whether methadone treatment needs tighter regulation in the state.
Methadone is widely used as a treatment for addiction to heroin and other opioid narcotics. Doctors can prescribe it in pill form to treat pain, but it can be dispensed in liquid form for
substance-abuse treatments only in licensed centers.
A News Tribune series published in September found that since 2007 the Lake Superior Treatment Center has been cited for more violations of state and federal regulations than any methadone clinic in the state.
The state moved to revoke the clinic’s license after finding numerous and chronic violations, including failing to check that patients were properly using take-home doses of methadone, providing false information to investigators and overworking counselors by giving them case loads of 80 clients — 30 more than allowed by law.
The Nov. 16 letter announcing the $800 fine said the excessive caseloads have continued. On the weeks of Oct. 1 and Oct. 8, when the clinic had seven counselors, caseloads were slightly over 50 per counselor, the maximum allowed by federal law. But as the number of counselors dropped in succeeding weeks — to six, and then to five, and then to four before returning to five — the caseloads rose. By the weeks of Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, counselors had case loads of 84 and 80, respectively.
It also listed violations regarding treatment plans, such as entries in client records not being signed or dated and treatment plan reviews not being listed in client files.
The latest list of violations will be added to those considered in the revocation order, the letter said.