July 2, 2005 in City

Midstream’s patients supported

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Three companies have taken over the clients of a company that lost its right to care for people with mental disabilities in the wake of a financial scandal.

Midstream Inc., which provided in-home care for 26 people in the Spokane area, lost its certification and contract with the Department of Social and Health Services last week.

The financial manager of the company, Christina A. Davis, has been accused of stealing more than $25,000 from Midstream clients and faces a charge of first-degree theft. She was fired from her job in May. Davis is the daughter of Midstream’s president and CEO Diane Knutson.

Attempts to reach Knutson were unsuccessful on Friday. Midstream’s phone number has been disconnected.

As part of the services Midstream provided to its clients, the company managed their finances and had access to their personal accounts.

More than 100 checks totaling more than $25,000 were cashed by two people for Davis, according to court documents. Last month, Spokane Police Detective Kirk Kimberly said Davis may have stolen an additional $30,000 from the accounts over the past few years.

Midstream clients were transferred to three companies, Allvest East, Skils’kin and Kaler Residential, on June 22. The new providers have hired almost all of the Midstream employees who worked with clients, said Karen Santschi-Dauphin, the regional administrator of the Department of Developmental Disabilities, the wing of DSHS that had the contract with Midstream.

“In most cases the direct care did not change at all,” Santschi-Dauphin said.

About 30 parents, guardians and clients attended a meeting about the transfer on June 20. Many of their concerns appeared to have been addressed when they learned that their new providers retained most of Midstream’s employees, Santschi-Dauphin said. The group was asked to give the three companies a chance. However, they can change care if they are not satisfied.

“Right now it seems to be going very smoothly,” Santschi-Dauphin said.

When Midstream was up for state recertification last summer, Residential Care Services, the DSHS agency that certifies such companies, determined that Midstream was not adequately monitoring its clients’ finances. As a result of the review, Midstream was certified for one year instead of two.

There are about 160 similar residential supported-living companies in Washington, which provide care to people in their own residences, said Sheldon Plumer, quality assurance administrator with Residential Care Services. Plumer said that he knows of one other company that has lost its certification this year.

In a letter to Knutson dated June 14, Plumer cited four reasons for decertifying Midstream. They were that Midstream:

“Failed to manage client funds.

“Failed to “protect clients’ financial interests” or “provide oversight of client accounts.”

“Failed to “ensure a safe and healthy environment by allowing a client to use a basement bedroom that does not have an emergency exit window.”

“Used “restrictive actions which violated client rights.” The letter cited two instances of client-rights violations, including that a bathroom in a client home “was locked to keep the client from using it.”

The case involving Davis is not the first time Midstream client money has turned up missing. A Midstream employee was dismissed in 2000 after about $10,000 in clients’ money was found to be unaccounted for, according to DSHS documents. Midstream reimbursed clients for the missing money.


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