Newport Beach’s Morningside Recovery is a “rogue rehab,” according to a state Senate report.
In the report released Tuesday, the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes determined that the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) failed to act quickly despite Morningside providing unregulated medical and psychological care for years in defiance of state law.
In its sample of a few hundred among the 805 state-licensed rehab facilities, the report determined that “the state’s prohibition against providing medical care is widely ignored.”
Specifically, the report highlighted the death of Brandon Jacques, a 20-year-old from Missouri who suffered from bulimia and alcoholism, and who died from a heart attack while reportedly in Morningside’s care.
The report’s author, John Hill, said that for years Morningside and a now-closed Costa Mesa-based detox center advertised that they provided medical care. Thus, they were breaking state law and “the state did very little about it,” he contended.
At one point, according to Hill, “Morningside advertised that it provided care just for people with mental disorders” and no addiction problems.
In a sidebar about Jacques, the report describes his continual struggles with bulimia while in Morningside’s care. It said he was transferred to another detox facility when his electrolyte levels were so low that he should have been hospitalized.
The Jacques family is suing Morningside in Orange County Superior Court for more than $25,000 in damages.
Morningside Recovery Chief Executive Mary Helen Beatificato denied that Jacques died while in the company’s care.
“Unfortunately, because of the pending lawsuit, I cannot comment on the substantive allegations of the lawsuit,” Beatificato said in an email. “I would, however, reiterate that Morningside has never had a client die while in or under its care, and we look forward to the opportunity to defend these meritless allegations.”
She also said the report does not accurately portray Morningside’s operations.
“With respect to the [report], Morningside’s operations are quite different from the facilities referenced in the report,” Beatificato said. “All of the treatment that Morningside provides is rendered at its 6,300-square-foot clinical facility, rather than in residential homes.
“Further, unlike the facilities mentioned in the report, all of the treatment at Morningside is provided by licensed marriage and family therapists, registered dietitians, psychiatrists, and other licensed mental health and medical professionals.”
ADP spokeswoman Suzi Rupp said the department is continually working to improve California’s treatment centers for substance abuse.
“The department acknowledges the critical issues addressed in this report and takes it seriously,” said Rupp. “We remain committed to protecting the health and safety of all clients served in the facilities we license and will take all appropriate action within our authority to do so.”
Among the report’s recommendations are that after the ADP is eliminated in July 2013, legislation should be created to allow for medical care under the auspices of greater oversight. The report also suggests that facilities providing medical detox services should have medical directors, as many facilities in other states do.