Macomb County plans to cut ties with Michigan’s largest autism therapy provider, Centria Healthcare, after a slew of problems including an employee caught on video abusing an autistic child.
The decision follows a similar move by Lapeer County last year, which dumped Centria amid mounting frustrations with the company. Centria said it was told Lapeer wanted a cheaper provider but documents obtained by the Free Press show broader problems in both counties.
In Macomb, community mental health officials cited Centria repeatedly for things like patient care, billing and training issues. Last year, it placed the company on probation.
Then after a video showed a Centria employee taunting, dragging, pushing and swatting a 5-year-old autistic girl during a therapy session in March, the county decided to part ways. The transition to new providers is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Nearly a year ago, the Free Press began examining thousands of internal and public documents related to Centria and interviewed former executives and employees who claimed the business has engaged in billing fraud, violating patient privacy, forgery, falsifying reports and employing unqualified people in an effort to boost profits.
Centria denies any wrongdoing and sued three former employees for defamation. That case is pending in Oakland County