State revokes Blossom Philadelphia's license for intellectually disabled homes; 'gross incompetence' found

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Blossom Philadelphia lost its license for 32 residences for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Blossom Philadelphia, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia, has lost its license to operate community homes for intellectually disabled individuals after Pennsylvania Department of Human Services inspectors found “gross incompetence” at the agency based in Chestnut Hill.

Regulators revoked the license Tuesday because the nonprofit agency failed to fix problems found during inspections in July and August and failed to report incidents as required by law. Violations included the use of staff that had not been trained, as well as the failure to properly administer medications and get residents to medical appointments.

Blossom, which operates 32 community homes where 89 individuals live, has 30 days from the date of the revocation to appeal the decision. It is allowed to continue operating while the appeal is pending.

“When a provider is operating pending appeal, DHS conducts unannounced monitoring inspections to ensure, at a minimum, that conditions at the homes do not constitute an immediate and serious danger to the life or health of the individuals served. As of now, we have not received an appeal,” the department said Thursday.

Blossom did not respond to specific questions.

“We are disappointed in the state’s decision, believe it was in error, and look forward to proving our commitment to remaining one of our region’s premier social-service support agencies for people with disabilities,” Blossom’s chief executive, Paula Czyzewski, said in a statement.

Complaints about the care being provided at Blossom’s adult residential facilities have been mounting.

“Some of the parents are extremely frustrated and disappointed,” Verna Edwards, who coordinates a support group affiliated with Vision for Equality for families in Chestnut Hill, Germantown and Mount Airy, said Thursday. “They are trying to get something done about this. Some of them are seeing about moving their children out of that place.”

It is not clear how far back Blossom’s problems, detailed in 80 violations over the summer, stretch.

In May, Blossom announced that it would outsource staffing for its community homes to Integrity Workforce Solutions LLC, a long-term staffing company based in Haverford, effective July 10.

DHS inspection reports at four of the residences said that there was no documentation of orientation or training in how to work with intellectually disabled individuals for staffers hired July 10. The reports also said there was no documentation of fire-safety or first-aid training in some cases. At least one staff member administered medications without training.

In other cases, residents were not given their medications at prescribed times. For example, a resident who was supposed to have vitamin A&D ointment with every diaper change was receiving it only at the 8 a.m. change. On Aug. 12, a person did not receive four different medicines at 8 p.m., as prescribed.

Marianne Roche, an intellectual-disabilities expert who worked in the industry for 50 years, said outside staffing does not make sense. “You can’t be responsive to the clients if the people there to do the work are not your employees,” she said.

Inspectors also found problems with the physical condition of the homes, which are in residential communities. Violations included dirty floors, stained carpets, window screens missing, holes in walls, mildew in showers, and a smoke detector hanging by its wires.