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SPANISH FORK — A state agency has moved to shut down a teen residential treatment center in Utah County after a teen died in its care earlier this year and state investigators say it failed to seek medical attention during an incident in April.
The Utah Office of Licensing issued a letter on May 20 to Maple Lake Academy saying the license for its girls' home was revoked, according to a notice posted on the Utah Department of Human Services website. The revocation applies to the facility's home for girls, which holds up to 15 people, according to Maple Lake's website.
In the May 20 letter, state officials say that the facility failed to seek immediate medical attention after someone in its care "was involved in an incident in which they hit their head on the pavement, lost consciousness and had multiple vomiting episodes" on April 8.
The next day, the facility also "failed to follow emergency room medical orders and permitted a client with a concussion to participate in strenuous activity," according to the letter. The state also concluded that the facility's nurse failed to document the ongoing medical services after a student's concussion.
In a statement to KSL on Tuesday, Maple Lake's ownership and management said they were disappointed the state decided to take "such (an) arbitrary action in this matter."
"The Office's notice contains reference to 'facts' not at all in evidence, as there has been no administrative hearing of any kind," the statement said. "... We know that our staff responded responsibly and timely in this case. The Office's allegations are excessive, in our opinion, and certainly not yet established by any formal process.
"Maple Lake Academy has operated safely and effectively for 17 years and has a notable record of success with its clients, as attested by the parents of the young woman in question. We understand that the Office of Licensing has a tough job to do, but even in an atmosphere of media sensationalism, due process must not lose out to political expediency. At minimum, we would expect to have 'our day in court' before any final action is taken by state regulators. As always, actively ensuring the safety, care, and welfare of our clients is our first priority."
The license revocation came months after Maple Lake was previously reprimanded by the state in January after the facility "failed to provide necessary medical care in an incident that resulted in a client's death on Jan. 16, 2022."
A letter to the facility dated Jan. 27 said Maple Lake provided documents to the state that showed the person in its care had continually worsening symptoms from an illness for at least a week before the child's parents complained, leading the facility to take the child to a doctor.
"After the doctor visit, the client complained of worsening symptoms but was not returned for medical care," the Jan. 27 letter states. "The client died early the next morning."
The recent order mandates that the girls' home transition each person in its care out of the program within 30 days, which could include their transfer to another facility or back to their parents. The facility must maintain required staffing and safety protocols, and the facility must notify all clients and their parents about the facility's certification being revoked. The facility must also not restrict any state agency from investigating, nor is it allowed to alter client or staff files.
The Spanish Fork facility's decertification is the latest development in Utah's youth treatment facilities, which have been heavily scrutinized in recent years. During the 2021 Utah legislative session, Paris Hilton — who testified that she was abused at the Provo Canyon School — spoke in support of a bill to regulate teen treatment centers, which the Legislature unanimosly passed. Hilton recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to push for legislation on the national level.