State officials revoked the license of an organization that provides group home and other services for the developmentally disabled on Tuesday, citing maltreatment, withholding information and failing to report violations.
Bridges MN's revocation goes into effect at 6 p.m. July 12, unless the company decides to appeal the decision, according to a letter from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to Bridges President Blake Elliott. Numerous violations were outlined in the letter against Bridges dating back to 2018, some detailing sexual and physical violations and filthy living conditions.
"While we respect the role of the Department of Human Services and the important work it does, we profoundly disagree with this action against us," a statement from Bridges said. "We will appeal the department's order and are confident that the legal process will reveal that its decision was based largely on incomplete and inaccurate information."
The organization will continue to provide care to residents while the appeal is pending, according to the statement. It serves more than 500 residents, in Hennepin, Ramsey, Isanti, Anoka, Carver, Scott, Dakota, Washington, Benton, Stearns, Sherburne, Wright, Blue Earth, Nicollet and Chisago counties.
Since Bridges was placed on a conditional license on July 1, 2020, through Monday, DHS identified a "pattern of non-compliance with Minnesota Rules and Statutes and with the terms of the conditional license," according to the letter.
DHS conducted numerous reviews since July 2020, but the timeframe with the greatest number of violations was from April 24 to May 9 this year, when officials found 33 violations, 21 of them repeat violations.
There was a range of maltreatment, according to the letter. In one instance, a staff member had a sexual relationship with a vulnerable adult. DHS' investigation found the staff member was under the influence of cocaine on multiple occasions and choked the vulnerable adult in a Forest Lake site.
In another, emergency responders found a vulnerable adult, one who received services from Bridges at their own home, with mottled skin and lying in feces and vomit. The person was taken to a hospital by ambulance and died soon after. Concerns were raised on the living conditions and overall care of the adult, according to the letter.
Other violations included failure to meet health services consistent with a person's needs, failure to provide services in response to a person's interests and preferences, failure to designate competent staff, and failure to establish, enforce and maintain health and welfare policies and procedures, according to the letter.
Staff reporter Chris Serres contributed to this report.