The state of Massachusetts shut down admissions at one of Recovery Centers of America’s inpatient addiction treatment centers on Friday, citing “concerns regarding patient care and safety.”
The Department of Public Health took the step after the death a week earlier of a patient who was being treated at the facility in the town of Danvers, north of Boston.
“Because of these ongoing concerns, we have suspended new admissions to RCA’s Danvers facility until we complete our investigation,” said a Department of Public Health spokeswoman.
The patient, a 61-year-old man who officials have not named, is the second patient of the facility to die this year. Nine people have died in licensed substance use treatment programs this year, according to the state, and no facility other than RCA Danvers has reported two deaths.
RCA officials could not be immediately reached for comment Friday night.
The state’s announcement came hours after the Globe and STAT published on their websites a lengthy investigation into evidence of turmoil and shoddy care at RCA’s Danvers and Westminster treatment centers.
In addition to the Danvers patient who died last Friday, another patient died after overdosing at the facility in February. That patient had also sought help at Westminster, where staff complained repeatedly to RCA management and the state that he was not receiving proper care, according to state complaints.
The shutdown is effective immediately, according to the state. The Danvers facility, called the Boston Center for Addiction Treatment, opened this January and has 72 beds. It is RCA’s largest inpatient facility. Patients who are already in treatment will not be moved. The state has not set timetable for completing its probe.
Recovery Centers of America describes itself as the “fastest-growing” addiction treatment provider in the country, offering “five-star,” resort-like accommodations. It has already sunk more than $50 million into buying and renovating its two facilities in Massachusetts: Danvers, which was once Hunt Hospital, and a former country inn in Westminster that opened in October with 48 beds. The company operates three other inpatient facilities and four outpatient facilities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.
The Massachusetts facilities have been plagued by concerns of understaffing and inadequate treatment, and staff have complained to the state that they fear they are not able to keep patients safe. Statewide this year, the DPH has investigated nine complaints at treatment centers — and three of those investigations were at RCA properties.
Investigators visited Westminster in February and Danvers in May and July, finding that each was understaffed and patients were not properly supervised. RCA has submitted corrective action plans.
Few details have been released about the death of the patient this month. A spokeswoman for the Essex District Attorney’s Office said that investigators responded to the facility for a report of a death on Aug. 18, and the man was pronounced dead at Beverly Hospital.
The state has shut admissions at just one other treatment facility this year: Swift River in Cummington in January. According to a news report in the Greenfield Recorder at the time, that suspension followed a “concerning incident” upon which officials declined to elaborate.
Information about how long that facility had its admissions halted for was not immediately available late Friday. A call left with Swift River was not immediately returned.