Nearly all staff quits health agency 2 days before surprise inspection

Posted Sept. 23, 2010, at 9:10 a.m.

AUBURN, Maine — Maine state officials say they’ve found serious deficiencies at an Auburn mental health agency, including the hiring of friends and family without training or background checks.

Officials say other problems at Possibilities Counseling include unpaid therapists and client files being left out in the open.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services conducted a surprise inspection at the agency on Aug. 26. The Sun Journal reports officials found 16 of 18 staffers at the office had quit two days before.

The agency has 550 affiliate therapists and case managers serving 10,000 patients across Maine. It works as a referral agency, sending clients to affiliates and billing insurance, Medicaid and MaineCare.

Health officials have given the agency a one-year conditional license requiring it to share monthly financial reports.

DHHS’s letter notifying President Wendy Bergeron of the conditional license requires her to share monthly financial reports to let the state monitor therapists’ pay.

It also requires Bergeron to spend at least 30 hours in the office each week, “a reflection of our observations about the frequency with which she’s actually in the shop,” said Catherine Cobb, director of DHHS’ Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services.

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