Duluth methadone clinic cited for repeat violationsThe latest set of violations cited at the only methadone clinic in Northeastern Minnesota is a “disappointment,” the inspector general for the state’s Department of Human Services said.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The latest set of violations cited at the only methadone clinic in Northeastern Minnesota is a “disappointment,” the inspector general for the state’s Department of Human Services said on Tuesday.
“We were hoping to see that their performance had increased,” Jerry Kerber said about an inspection earlier this year at the Lake Superior Treatment Center in Duluth. “But that’s not what we found.”
The clinic, which is appealing a license revocation order from September 2012, was cited for seven violations of state licensing policy in a correction order issued by the Department of Human Services on Dec. 11.
The violations — based on an inspection that took place on April 10 and 11 — concern staffing, treatment plans and
documentation of records. Although no fines were assessed, the inspection report noted that five of the issues cited were repeat violations. If not corrected, a fine or other sanctions could be imposed.
The clinic is owned by Colonial Management Group of Orlando, Fla., which did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. The company has consistently said in the past that it doesn’t speak to the media.
The continuing violations show that the clinic hasn’t righted its ship since piling up so many violations that it triggered the revocation order, Kerber said.
“We have a provider who … repeatedly demonstrated a lack of either ability or desire to comply with the licensing standards that they were obligated to meet,” he said. “This again demonstrates that they continued to violate the licensing standards.”
The clinic, which uses methadone to treat opiate addictions, was the focus of a News Tribune investigation last year. Among other things, the series reported that the state’s methadone clinics had been cited for more than 300 violations since 2007 and that none had been cited as often as the Lake Superior Treatment Center.
In an inspection on Aug. 2 and 3, 2012, the Department of Human Services found 50 violations at the clinic. After the agency announced in September that the clinic’s license would be revoked, the clinic appealed, and the clinic was allowed to stay open.
The revocation order remains active, as does the appeal, Kerber said. A hearing is scheduled for next July as negotiations between licensing officials and the company continue.
“This one is stretching out a bit,” Kerber said. “It’s not what we like to see.”
A bill brought to the Minnesota Legislature in the 2013 session would have required that a hearing take place within 90 days after an appeal to a license revocation was filed, Kerber said.
The bill passed in the Senate but ran out of time in the House, he said.
Separate legislation was passed stemming from hearings on methadone co-chaired by state Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth. One measure requires that methadone prescriptions have to be reported to the state Pharmacy Board to prevent users from “shopping around” to various places for the drug, he said.
Huntley’s bill also improved regulation of methadone clinics, Kerber said. Previously, five agencies had jurisdiction over portions of methadone programs. The legislation streamlined the process, placing most of it within the Department of Human Services.