Finding Truth About Drug Treatment Centers

A drug treatment center in High Point, North Carolina was issued two administrative penalties for violating state statutes regarding medication requirements and clinical and nursing care problems after the January death of a patient.

A branch of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services issued the penalties against the Guilford Center. The penalties were given after an onsite complaint survey was completed at the end of May. The 56-bed drug treatment center helps those in the community with substance abuse problems who do not have insurance.

The state Department of Health and Human Services suspended admissions at the drug treatment center. The Guilford Center must present a plan to the state to correct the infractions by June 23. The state’s complaint investigation followed the death of a patient having non-hospital detoxification at the center. The Department of Health and Human Services investigation of the death found it was not caused by any action or inaction by the drug treatment center.

The center contracts with Bridgeway Behavioral Health for its operation.

Considering the nature of the violations and the state’s past and current sanctions on the substance abuse treatment center, the Guilford Center and Bridgeway Behavioral Health have mutually agreed that it is in the best interest of Guilford County consumers to transition the substance abuse treatment program to a new provider, said Billie M. Pierce, director of the Guilford Center, in a written statement.

Bridgeway Behavioral Health will continue to operate the facility until a search for a new provider is completed. Several months after the Guilford Center opened in August of 2008, the state closed the drug treatment center after citing problems that included incomplete records of patient medications and staff training, allowing patients to give themselves medication and not keeping medications properly locked.

At that time, the Guilford Center was fined $1500 by the state of North Carolina after discovering an unlocked medication room and unrestricted patient access to medications. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Health Service Regulation cited instances where patients at the drug treatment center missed doses of their medication or the doses were not noted in their charts.

The report documents loose practices for dispensing medication to patients. State regulations require all medications to be kept under lock and key. The report also discovered inadequate records on staff training to deal with the unique needs of substance abuse patients, from mental health complications to simply carrying a patient’s emergency contact information when that patient is off campus.

One staff member, who did not want to be identified, said that he and other staff members handed out meds, we don’t really give them.

The drug treatment center was designed to keep patients much longer than the traditional treatment period of 28 days.

A month after that closure, the Guilford Center reopened following completion of a satisfactory inspection by the state Department of Health and Human Services.