When Riverwood Centers closed last month, reams of patient records were left at its locations in Chisago, Isanti and Pine counties.
The nonprofit – which provided crisis, psychological assessment and therapies, medication management, community-based mental health rehabilitation services for children and adults, anger management and offender treatment programs, individual, family and group therapy, and emergency in-home visits – has ceased all operations and may be pursuing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Staff from Chisago County Health and Human Services removed the records from the Riverwood locations as part of a court order.
Those records are now being stored in an undisclosed county building.
Chisago County HHS Director Nancy Dahlin assured the County Board of Commissioners at its April 2 meeting that the records are safe and even if a person were to look at a record, he or she wouldn’t be able to tell which patient it is because the records are tied to Riverwood’s numerical patient records management system.
Chisago County Administrator Bruce Messelt detailed a set of staff recommendations to the County Board in relation to next steps following the Riverwood closure.
“What staff is recommending is that, if necessary, we are authorized to start negotiations with new service providers and bring those contracts back to (the County Board),” he said. “The second request is to continue making client files available to service providers. As part of that, we would need your authority to extend some funds to do that and seek reimbursement, and also to try to get our other four counties to try and participate in that, probably through requests for their board actions, as well.
“The third is there are a lot of legal issues we’re dealing with, and we’d like the authority to hire outside counsel.”
The board voted 3-2 to approve those requests.
Commissioner Ben Montzka cast one of the nay votes. He said he wanted to go into closed session during the meeting to discuss any potential legal issues surrounding the county’s involvement with Riverwood.
His motion to close the meeting did not pass, and Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter told him the county is currently not dealing with any lawsuits in regards to Riverwood.
Commissioner Lora Walker cast the other dissenting vote, noting she had “many questions” about the county’s involvement with the situation.
At the end of the discussion, Dahlin stressed to the board that she and the other HHS employees are working diligently to help the people in the county who formerly used Riverwood’s services.
“Given the sensitive nature of the entire situation, I want you to be comfortable that your human services director and associated staff are moving forward with securing and placing new resources or revised resources in the county so our people can continue to get services they need,” she said.