NBC5 News Investigation: Inside OnTrack Part 1

Medford, Ore. — This summer, Oregon Health Authority conducted a site review of the organization’s Dad’s Program which provides substance use disorders treatment to men who have custody of their kids under the age of 5. In an NBC5 exclusive report, we’re detailing the findings, and hearing from board leadership who say it’s no longer a problem.

An OHA review of the Dad’s Program at OnTrack details a “substantial failure to comply”. The 43-page report was made based on 2 visits in June, where Oregon Health Authority staff identified 29 findings of non-compliance. The violations range from unlawful policies that restricted clients visits and phone calls,  to allegations of verbal, and physical abuse.

According to the report, clients told OHA staff that neither they, nor their children got enough to eat, and were often hungry.

One individual said, “he made pancakes for his four-year-old child in the evening, and was told by a staff person he must throw the pancakes away.” They said often “staff will not allow the individuals and children to eat until after the staff person has gotten a plate of food.”

In addition to a lack of food it also detailed; food that was past the pull date by as much as a year, including infant cereal, food in the basement with holes, indicating a rodent problem, and food that potentially isn’t being stored and served at proper temperatures.

The health authority also found various safety hazards including mold, exposed pipe, and ripped carpet that caused a man to fall down the stairs with his 18-month old.

As for the people in charge of the program, residents told OHA during their visit that they were cussed at, and called derogatory names, had rocks thrown at them by staff while they were smoking, and stated that staff, “often required individuals to ‘take a hit’ with a sock filled with rice, prior to going out for a smoke break.” The OHA report went on to say the claims were substantiated by others participating in the program who also indicated that “during one group session, they were made to ‘karate chop’ each other in the neck.”

“All of the items have been taken care of,” OnTrack Board President, Jim Maize says.

Jim Maize wasn’t available for an interview, but says each area of non-compliance has been corrected, and he says it was verified in a follow-up report by OHA last month. Mazie wasn’t able to provide a copy of that report to us, because he says the board hasn’t reviewed it, but he says the findings were concerning and they’re keeping a close eye going forward.

“We want to make sure that our mission is achieved to provide- in this case- housing and counseling for all individuals in the cleanest environment possible,” Maize says.

We reached out to the Oregon Health Authority to see if action had been taken to correct the 29 areas of non-compliance. They say OnTrack addressed the immediate health and safety concerns, and the staff member mentioned in the report is suspended. They did say issues still remain with OnTrack’s clinical documentation.

Just last month, OnTrack’s Executive Director, Rita Sullivan, went on leave, amid allegations that OnTrack management inappropriately interacted with some staff. There’s no word when, or if, Sullivan will return to the non-profit.

This is just the beginning of NBC5’s investigation into OnTrack, we’ll have much more next week.

 

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