State to revoke Duluth methadone clinic's licenseThe state is revoking the license for Duluth’s methadone clinic following what it said were numerous chronic and serious violations of state and federal laws, according to an order issued today.
By: Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune, INFORUM
The state is revoking the license for Duluth’s methadone clinic following what it said were numerous chronic and serious violations of state and federal laws, according to an order issued today.
The Lake Superior Treatment Center, the only methadone clinic for the treatment of opiate addiction north of St. Cloud, had 400 patients enrolled as of the end of July, according to the state Department of Human Services, which revoked the license.
The revocation is effective at 6 p.m. on Oct. 8. The clinic can appeal the decision before then.
The clinic’s license was already on conditional status since March after inspectors found numerous violations, including failing to check that patients were properly using take-home doses of methadone — high-level doses of the drug that are popular on the street; providing false information to investigators; and overworking counselors by giving them case loads of 80 clients — 30 more than federal law allows.
Many of those were repeat violations from inspections conducted in 2009.
According to today’s order, inspectors reviewed the clinic on Aug. 2 and 3 and again found numerous repeat violations, including having excessive counselor caseloads, not properly controlling take-home doses, not doing background checks on counselors before hiring them, failing to document treatment and procedures, and having inadequate procedures for reporting possible maltreatment of children and vulnerable adults.
“Many of the 56 violations are violations of law or rule affecting the health, safety or rights of individuals served by the program,” the report said.
The clinic is owned by the Florida-based Colonial Management Group. Administrators there could not be immediately reached for comment.
A corporate medical director for Colonial, Dr. Tom Payte, who works out of Texas, said he did not know about the revocation before being contacted by the News Tribune.
He said the revocation could have disastrous consequences for the clinic’s patients and the community.
The patients, he said, “will die, overdose or go to jail,” he said. “Some will just resume their illicit habits.
“This is like suicide,” he said. “It’s a cowardly way out.”
The News Tribune began running a series of investigative stories on methadone treatment on Sept. 16, finding that the drug has killed nearly 400 Minnesotans in the last 10 years, including 39 in St. Louis and Carlton counties, that few patients complete methadone treatment, and the cost to taxpayers for the treatment since 2005 has been about $43 million.