Agency faulted for poor oversight of drug, alcohol facilities
The state agency that licenses residential drug and alcohol programs failed to pursue evidence of problems at facilities where people died, follow up to make sure the problems were fixed or use its power to suspend programs that posed an immediate danger, according to a report by a legislative watchdog office.
The report cites inadequate responses by the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to six deaths, including four in one private program in Riverside County.
After the first death, "the state found the program had done nothing wrong despite several unanswered questions and evidence that the program was providing medical care contrary to state law,’’ said the report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes.
The office found that a second death was not investigated for a year and a half.
"By then, two more deaths had occurred," the review found. "The department eventually shut down the facility where four people died,'' but allowed the operator to continue running several other homes.
The agency has made some improvements and is scheduled to hand over its licensing responsibilities to another department as part of a reorganization next year, but the Senate office report calls for legislation and regulations "to prevent a return to a legacy of spotty enforcement."
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento