When state licensing officials visited the Vintage Place North on St. Paul’s East Side, no staff were there to greet them. Instead, a sign at the children’s group home directed kids returning from school to walk a mile to the organization’s Ivy Avenue location.
That June visit gave Department of Human Services officials pause, given that the Vintage Place, which serves boys ages 10 to 17, is required to maintain around-the-clock staffing.
That was the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
After reviewing clients’ medical records, state officials believe a resident ran out of lithium, a prescribed anti-psychotic medication, and went without it for eight days. Another boy spent five days without trazodone, a prescribed anti-depressant. The treatment plan for a boy admitted in mid-March called for a mental health referral. By early May, there was still no evidence he had received one.On Monday, DHS ordered the Vintage Place and Vintage Place North to close, citing more than 30 state licensing violations. If they hope to stay open, the group home administrators have 10 days to file an appeal with the department.
A staffer answering the phone at the Vintage Place on Thursday said the owners were busy meeting with attorneys.
The Vintage Place on Ivy Avenue and the Vintage Place North on Cottage Avenue each are licensed to house up to six boys in a residential setting. The two sites were licensed by DHS in 2003 and 2006, respectively.
The department’s order of license revocation notes that the group homes entered into a settlement agreement with DHS last December following a small mountain of complaints and inspection concerns ranging from unreported assaults to missing children, with some repeat violations dating as far back as 2007. The June visit uncovered even more problems, including serious issues with the care detailed in five of the seven clients’ medical files.
The department found 15 serious incidents dating back to February 2015 that required a police or ambulance response but had not been reported to DHS as required. The Vintage failed to report four additional incidents involving on-site medical care, including an incident in which a boy punched a refrigerator and another where one resident struck another.
Pointing to seven instances where boys disappeared from the facility, DHS officials said the Vintage lacked a required emergency plan detailing the types of actions staff should take if a boy goes missing. In each case, staff failed to file the necessary “critical incident” reports.
The order of revocation found: “The violations represent the license holder’s failures, including times the program had no staff, inadequate response to incidents, inadequate response to the health care needs of children, inadequate assessment of children’s needs upon admission, inadequate plans for a child with a history of exploiting others and a child with a history of assaulting others, inadequate training of staff.”
In February, a 64-year-old counselor was charged with repeatedly assaulting a teen in the face. Clemmie Tucker Sr., a former police officer and Golden Gloves boxer, had previously served federal prison time for intent to distribute methamphetamine.
DHS fined the Vintage Place in 2007 and 2013 for failing to do adequate background studies of staff members. Licensed programs are required to initiate background studies through DHS on anyone who provides direct contact service.