Morningside hit with orders to stop operations

These eight locations were listed in cease and desist letters sent to Morningside Recovery on April 23 from the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
(Courtesy Google Maps)

Eight properties operated by Morningside Recovery have received letters from state authorities ordering them to stop operations.

If the two facilities in Costa Mesa and six in Newport Beach don’t comply with the cease-and-desist letters dated April 23, the Newport-based company could incur fines of $200 daily per facility, according to the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.

The letters are among several measures the department has taken to prevent Morningside from continuing normal operations, including a temporary suspension order and documents seeking to permanently revoke the recovery center’s license.

The center received the letters May 1, said Morningside attorney Mary Helen Beatificato.

Morningside allegedly used its sober-living homes, which do not require state licenses, for licensable services that included treatment, counseling and recovery planning, said ADP spokeswoman Suzi Rupp.

Sober-living homes are designed for people recovering from a chemical addiction to live together in alcohol- and drug-free environments to support each other and maintain their sobriety. Such facilities do not need licensing and are protected by federal and state fair-housing laws.

However, Rupp asserted that Morningside provided clinical services without a license at its sober-living homes — an accusation Beatificato denied.

The center responded to the state’s notice to stop operations and is complying with a separate temporary suspension order for three Costa Mesa locations listed in the suspension order, she said.

According to Beatificato, the state’s recent action is largely procedural and doesn’t change anything the center is doing.

The three Costa Mesa locations do not house any clients, and all detox services are contracted out, she said.

The Orange County Register first reported last week that the rehab clinic received the cease-and-desist letters.

In a death investigation report dated April 24, ADP said Morningside failed to report the death of a man who died while in its care.

Beatificato said the death did not happen while the patient was in Morningside’s care.

In the investigation, the department deemed Morningside had deficiencies that posed an “imminent danger to residents” in four categories, including allegations that Morningside didn’t ensure its client received necessary referral to medical services and an allegation that the center provided residential treatment at an unlicensed facility.

On March 29, the family of Brandon Jacques filed a civil lawsuit against Morningside alleging that the rehab facility is responsible for Jacques’ death because it did not prevent the 20-year-old bulimic man from purging, nor did it seek appropriate medical care when tests showed his electrolyte levels were abnormal.

The family alleges that although they paid Morningside about $25,000 for a month of treatment to address his bulimia and alcoholism, the rehab facility allegedly moved Jacques to a less expensive treatment center nearby to free up space in its facilities without his family’s consent or knowledge.

The rehab center would not discuss specific clients, but said families are always included in the decision to move clients to different facilities.

Morningside does not differentiate between the clients at sober-living homes and those at residential recovery facilities, ADP alleges in documents seeking to revoke the center’s license.

“Morningside disagrees with this position,” Beatificato said in a statement Tuesday, “and is confident in the lack of any legal authority supporting this new interpretation by the ADP.”

A hearing to permanently revoke Morningside’s license is set for May 21 at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Los Angeles.

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