Maine DHHS Press / News Release
October 21, 2019
Maine DHHS Takes Action to Protect Adults Served by Residential and Community Support Services
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) took action today to protect the health and safety of individuals served by Residential and Community Support Services (RCSS), a company based in Biddeford that provides residential services to adults with developmental disabilities and brain injury throughout southern Maine.
Today, DHHS terminated its MaineCare provider agreement with RCSS, under which the company receives MaineCare reimbursement for agreeing to provide services to MaineCare members in accordance with regulations. DHHS also terminated RCSS' separate state contract to provide emergency transitional housing services.
DHHS took this action in the wake of a resident's death in late August and in response to RCSS' failure to protect the health and safety of adults in its care.
"The health and safety of Maine people is our chief concern," said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "This company's unacceptable failure to ensure the wellbeing of its residents has led us to take immediate steps to safeguard residents' health and welfare and transition them to alternative homes. We will do all we can to help ease the disruption and distress caused to residents and their families as we hold the company accountable."
DHHS Adult Protective Services opened a case immediately upon learning of the death in late August. The individual died at an RCSS facility after RCSS failed to administer critical medication and failed to summon emergency medical services when the individual experienced a medical emergency while in RCSS' care. In accordance with privacy requirements, DHHS can release no further details about the death.
DHHS suspended all new admissions to RCSS on August 30. Law enforcement was called and asked DHHS to hold its adult protective case pending the conclusion of their investigation. The Department has complied with that request and cooperated fully with law enforcement in its investigation. The Department has also investigated other allegations related to other RCSS residents.
While the law enforcement investigation was proceeding, DHHS began a program audit of RCSS and requested that RCSS submit a plan of correction to ensure the health and safety of its residents. Additional Adult Protective Services referrals about other residents were received, and DHHS proceeded to investigate those.
While some improvements have been made since late August, DHHS has documented:
- Failure to administer medications to other residents at RCSS facilities, placing their health and safety in jeopardy;
- Failure to demonstrate that the company has an effective quality management and monitoring system to reasonably assure residents' health and safety;
- Failure to implement effective safeguards to assure that overall health care standards are met;
- Ongoing investigatory activity related to the death that has delayed and threatened RCSS' capacity to identify and implement essential reforms.
Despite the Department's efforts to work with RCSS to correct deficiencies, RCSS did not make sufficient progress, as evidenced by unacceptable plans of correction and new Adult Protective Services cases.
DHHS has already overseen the transition of four residents to alternative housing, and a fifth move is in progress.
To ensure a safe transition of the 65 remaining adults in RCCS' care, DHHS will continue to pay for services provided by RCSS while residents are moved to new homes and will assist with finding those placements. This transition is expected to last no more than 30 calendar days.
The Department has identified sufficient beds statewide for all RCSS residents and is working with providers to identify staffing. We will monitor placements on a daily basis and explore additional options as needed.
DHHS has informed RCSS of the termination of the MaineCare provider agreement and emergency transitional housing contract. DHHS has begun notifying residents or guardians as applicable, as well as case managers.
As of October 18, RCSS operated 38 homes, all of which had either one or two beds. The homes are located throughout southern Maine from Wells to Auburn. RCSS has been a MaineCare provider since 2013.
The Department has systems in place to monitor the wellbeing of adults with disabilities and is working to strengthen them. This includes Department leadership recognizing, upon coming into office earlier this year, that operation of such one- and two-bed homes without a state licensing requirement does not serve the best interests of residents. We have added a requirement that one- and two-bed homes be licensed, which the Department announced to stakeholders in April and is the process of implementing. The Department's critical incident reporting system has also been improved to include an electronic dashboard and quarterly reviews with all providers.