ALBANY – New York’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports failed to inspect the residential drug treatment programs before, during and after the pandemic to ensure that they were safe, according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
DiNapoli released an audit to describe the effects of the pandemic on those who are fighting addiction late last week. Substance abuse has skyrocketed over the past 18 months creating an overwhelming need for addiction treatment, and recovery services.
He says OASAS was already inadequately inspecting and certifying these treatment programs, but when the state put these inspections on hold it created even worse security and treatment for the patients already admitted.
DiNapoli hopes to bring these facilities up to proper standards to provide the best care possible for New Yorkers.
“OASAS noted that 4,415 drug overdose deaths in New York that took place from Sept. 2019 to Aug. 2020 reversed two years of declines in overdoses,” said DiNapoli. “These deaths were 24% higher than during the same 12-month period in the previous year. This is the highest death toll that has been recorded in any Sept.-Aug. period on record.”
The audit found that even before the pandemic struck certifications for many of these programs had lapsed. Since there were no inspections from the OASAS, or certification provided, it is still unknown whether they provided adequate care to the residents.
From April 2017 to February 2021 the audit found that all 76 residential programs due for recertification during the audit period were overdue. They also found that 49 were more than a year past due before the pandemic. They also remained uninspected for at least 15 months more during the emergency period.
“28 programs were found to be one to two years overdue for recertification, 16 were two to three years overdue, and five more were over three years overdue,” DiNapoli said. “Two programs never got a recertification review at all.”
The audit looked at 25 programs for a combined 243 regulatory deficiencies identified by the OASAS, and 10 did not get a documented on-site visit during recertification. Only about 40% of these issues would even be documented, or have plans to be taken care of.
DiNapoli recommends OASAS takes certain steps moving forward to improve the programs. These steps involve doing recertification reviews for all overdue programs, monitor reviews so they are done on time, and ensure staff follow up on programs to correct problems following the reviews. The OASAS has agreed to all three recommendations, and will take action to follow through.