Thursday, October 4, 2012

County Detox Center Problems Troubling

Most people probably don't give a hoot about the Minnehaha County Detox Center because they or a family member has never had an occasion to use such a facility. However, the management of a county facility such as this should be of interest to taxpayers because it is taxpayers dollars that seem to have been mismanaged as it relates to the operation and oversight of the facility. The county paid a lot of money to this contractor to manage the operations of this facility and this facility has serious problems for what seems to be a long time.

The detox center is located on the second floor of the public safety building.  It's not like the facility was at some remote location. The Sheriff's department has employees in this building. Metro Communications is located in this building. The Jail is attached to this building. There is a lot going on in the Public Safety Building. And yet, no one seemed to know that there were serious problems with that center's operations until employee whistle blowers went to the media to get the county's attention as a last resort. That is never good and proves to be very embarrassing for government and elected officials.

There are a lot of third party contractors managing operations and functions in local government. However, that does not mean government officials can turn a blind eye to what is happening with these operations. In the case of the Minnehaha County Detoxification Center, it would appear that no one was minding the store.  Out of sight, out of mind because someone else was hired to manage it.  Due diligence and oversight is still necessary. Now the State of South Dakota has put the facility on probation and is not allowing any patient admissions because of serious safety concerns until a corrective plan of action is reviewed and approved. County officials said they already sent in their correction action. Fast action is good especially when you get caught with your pants down.

You have to feel a little sorry for the county in spite of what is going on with the Detox Center. The county is at the mercy of the state when it comes to a lot of issues relating to the indigent population. They don't always have control over expenses dictated by the state. However, it still obligates them to management and oversight of these programs and services.

In today's ARGUS LEADER, Minnehaha County Commission Chair Dick Kelly said that "the commission plans to keep a close eye on the detox center, and the state will, as well."   Is it really the county commissioners' job to keep a close eye on the detox center? Why isn't this oversight the responsibility of a county department? Maybe then it would not have gotten so out of control.

And it took a former employee going to the media to get their attention. Troubling.

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