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Sauk Rapids residential treatment facility fined after baby's death

  • Associated Press
  • June 8, 2014 - 5:48 PM

SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. — The state has fined a Sauk Rapids residential treatment facility $1,000 and ordered its license to be placed on conditional status after a baby died there in 2011.

In an order issued last month, the Minnesota Department of Human Services found that Journey Home was responsible for neglect of the mother and her infant, who died in an unsafe sleeping location and position in October 2011.

The state launched a critical review of the home for mothers recovering from chemical dependency after a different baby drowned in September 2013, according to the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/1oKZSzb ). DHS did not find any maltreatment in the drowning.

DHS issued a $1,000 fine and ordered its license to be placed on conditional status for two years. Journey Home is operated by CentraCare Health, which has appealed.

In a statement, CentraCare spokeswoman Jeanine Nistler said: "Journey Home and all CentraCare Health services regularly review our policies and procedures to ensure that we are providing the best possible care to our patients and ensuring the safety of patients and visitors."

The first death wasn't reported to DHS until May 2013, said Jerry Kerber, DHS inspector general. The agency was investigating the first death when the second death occurred, prompting the review.

"Any death in a treatment program is of very, very serious concern to us," Kerber said.

Kerber said he's confident the center is taking the deaths very seriously. DHS's order requires Journey Home to improve its assessment of parents and their ability to provide necessary supervision of their children.

A contested case hearing will determine the outcome of Journey Home's appeal. If DHS's ruling is affirmed, a conditional license means Journey Home will be subject to closer and more frequent monitoring, Kerber said.

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