A New Haven substance abuse treatment center has been censured and fined $2,500 for multiple violations, including allowing clients to take a 2013 limousine ride to City Hall to vote with alcohol in the vehicle.
Crossroads Inc. was also placed on probation for two years and will be required to hire an independent contractor to provide six months of updates on whether the facility is making improvements and is in compliance with state regulations. Board chairperson Genoveva Palmieri agreed to the penalties in a June 27 consent order with the state Department of Public Health.
During inspections in June, September and November 2013, the center was found to have multiple violations of state regulations, including failing to provide a safe and clean environment, failing to properly supervise residents and failing to safely control medication, smoking and sharp objects, DPH records show.
Palmieri and Clifford Skolnick, who became executive director on June 23, said Monday that many changes are being made to comply with the state regulations.
“We’re taking this consent order very seriously,’’ he said. “I’m carrying it around like a Bible correcting items on a day-to-day basis.”
On the day of the municipal election, Nov. 5, 2013, a board member took 11 female clients to vote, with no staff members along for the limo ride, but with alcohol present, DPH records show. The limo driver videotaped some of the women getting out of the limo and the limo company placed the video on a website without the permission from the women, DPH records show. The video was later taken down.
DPH concluded that the home failed to provide for the women’s privacy because they were videotaped without their permission, records show.
An investigation determined that 13 male clients were also taken to vote that day in the limo, and some female clients reported that some of the men smelled of alcohol and appeared under the influence, records show. No urine tests were conducted on their return to Crossroads, DPH found.
Dr. Miguel Caldera, the executive director at the time, approved the limo rides and concluded no urine tests were required because the clients had only gone to vote, records show. The board member had assured him that there would be no alcohol in the limo, records show. A person answering the phone at Crossroads Monday said Caldera is no longer working there. Caldera admitted to state officials that approving the “last-minute” voting trip was “a really bad judgment call on his part” because such a trip should have been planned weeks in advance, DPH records show.
Caldera left as executive director in January as part of a mutual decision with the board, Palmieri said. Skolnick said that “there is a great deal of supervision” now and that he is “more hands-on” than Caldera was.
Other violations were outlined in state letters to Caldera on Aug. 23, Oct. 15, and Dec. 11, 2013. They included a failure to safeguard children in the home’s nursery playroom because one client was supervising the two toddlers of another client with no staff members present. A plastic bike in the nursery was also missing a seat, and a swing was not level with the floor, records show.
State inspectors also found that medication, including methadone, was kept in unlocked cabinets and that clients took medication without an aide first checking the drugs against a prescribed medication card.
Crossroads also failed to provide at least a semi-annual training session for staff related to medication, failed to properly maintain first-aid kits, failed to properly monitor refrigerator temperatures and lacked documentation on staff performance evaluations, reference checks or certifications, the violation letters state.
The home also failed to provide a psychiatric evaluation in a timely manner for one client who had psychosis, schizophrenia, had tried hanging him or herself in prison and who was hearing voices compelling him or herself to commit suicide or homicide, DPH records state.
Crossroads also failed to document treatment plans or progress notes for several clients, including those with opiate and alcohol dependency and depression, records show.
Clients were seen with razors in their rooms despite the home’s policy that sharp objects should be signed out, then returned to staff members, records show.
DPH also faulted the home for shoddy conditions, including missing ceiling tiles, a soiled tablecloth, dirty walls and floors, chairs with foam sticking out, rusted doorframes, ripped mattresses, a cracked mirror and a bathroom sink detached from a wall, records show.
Inspectors also recounted finding five bathrooms that smelled like smoke, with some door vents blocked with cardboard or paper towels, and said a staff member reported that clients were smuggling cigarettes into bathrooms to smoke, in violation of the home’s policy.
To read the consent order go here.