The Minnesota agency responsible for protecting vulnerable adults in the state has failed to provide adequate oversight for 20 adult day centers, according to a federal audit.
The Office of Inspector General for the federal Department of Health and Human Services released the report last week, the Star Tribune reported .
Federal auditors made unannounced visits last year to the adult day centers, which primarily care for seniors and adults with disabilities. The audit focused on centers enrolled in Medicaid's Elderly Waiver program, which helps low-income seniors live more independently.
The agency found 200 health, safety and administrative requirement violations. The violations included peeling paint, hazardous chemicals and an unattended knife.
The problems stem from the Minnesota Department of Human Services' inability to routinely inspect the centers because of a staffing shortage, according to the audit.
DHS Inspector General Carolyn Ham said her office has started conducting licensing inspections at the centers to hold them accountable. Two of the programs have closed, while a dozen have received correction orders.
Ham said that while the report's findings are "very concerning," the audit exclusively examined centers that had a history of health and safety problems.
"We do not believe the level of violations found is representative of all of Minnesota's adult day centers," she said.
The audit raises many concerns about the state's oversight of adult day centers, said Roberta Opheim, the state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities.
"It's clear that DHS licensing is not doing a thorough enough job" inspecting adult day centers, Opheim said. "This is a vulnerable population, and we have rules in place, and if those rules aren't followed, what risk does that put on the vulnerable individual?"
The DHS is currently facing scrutiny over its oversight of state-licensed programs that serve children, seniors and people with disabilities. The state Legislative Auditor began an investigation last month into allegations that child care providers are defrauding the state's child-subsidy program, which is publicly funded.