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Todd County day care loses license over prescription drug abuse

LONG PRAIRIE--The state revoked the license of a Long Prairie home day care Wednesday, alleging its owner was caring for children while under the influence of prescription medications.

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According to the order, Hibbs used controlled substances "to the extent that the use was apparent when children were in (her) care and had a negative effect on (her) ability to provide care." Hibbs admitted to taking a nighttime sedative for insomnia during the day, an amount determined to be more than the prescribed dose. She also admitted to taking a narcotic pain medication on the same day during child care hours. BrainerdDispatch.com Illustration

LONG PRAIRIE-The state revoked the license of a Long Prairie home day care Wednesday, alleging its owner was caring for children while under the influence of prescription medications.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services issued a revocation order to Gretchen Hibbs, who operated a day care for up to 14 children at 117 Second Ave. N., Long Prairie. The order outlined an investigation conducted by Morrison County on Feb. 8, which concluded Gibbs was unable to care for the needs of the children in the day care. The investigation was conducted by Morrison County due to a conflict of interest between Hibbs and Todd County.

The day care was licensed to care for no more than 10 children under school age, of which no more than four children could be infants or toddlers. No more than three of those children were permitted to be infants.

"You left five children unattended while you were on another level of the home," the order stated. "One child was found in a bedroom screaming and crying, distraught, and with a red face. Another child was found in the playroom by him/herself, and three other children were playing in the living room. An adult called your name several times before you appeared from the upstairs level of the home."

According to the order, Hibbs used controlled substances "to the extent that the use was apparent when children were in (her) care and had a negative effect on (her) ability to provide care." Hibbs admitted to taking a nighttime sedative for insomnia during the day, an amount determined to be more than the prescribed dose. She also admitted to taking a narcotic pain medication on the same day during child care hours.

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"You appeared confused, stumbled over your words and had difficulty staying awake," the order stated.

Several observed behaviors concerned investigators, according to the state's order.

Hibbs was observed attempting to change the diaper of a child whose diaper was just changed and of an older child who no longer wore diapers. She had difficulty accessing emergency contact information and struggled to recall which child belonged to which parent. Hibbs also could not remember whether she'd prepared lunch for the children. Pizza and french fries were found sitting on the stove and the oven was on and set to 400 degrees for an unknown length of time. Hibbs also demonstrated an "angry response" to a school-age child in her care, the order stated.

The revocation was issued, DHS stated, due to the "serious nature of the above violations."

In an April 4 letter, Morrison County informed Hibbs she was found responsible for maltreatment (neglect) of children. Hibbs requested reconsideration of the determination, but the determination was upheld.

Hibbs has the right to appeal the revocation decision within 10 days and to a contested case hearing. The contested hearing would include information from both the revocation and the maltreatment determination.

According to the licensing database managed by DHS, Hibbs had no previous investigations or negative actions since 2010.

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