Citizens' Issues
For Many of Connecticut’s Disabled, Home Is Where the Harm Is

The woman was sent to a Connecticut emergency room 19 times in 15 months. Her injuries were ghastly. She swallowed pieces of razor blades. She burned herself. She inserted pins, nails, metal can lids and other objects inside her vagina and rectum.


She was developmentally disabled; living in a group home overseen by Connecticut state authorities. Each of her injuries should have been investigated by the state. None of them were.


The woman's experience is part of a federal report formally released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. Hers were among more than 300 emergency room visits examined by federal investigators between January 2012 and June 2014.


The report found that on dozens of occasions, Connecticut group home workers failed to uphold their legal obligations to report incidents of abuse, injury, and neglect to authorities. Even when such reports were made, the state rarely took appropriate steps to find out what happened.


"The results of this investigation are worse than I could have imagined, and clearly the oversight agencies have failed in their responsibility to prevent and investigate incidents of abuse," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who ordered the report following a 2013 investigation of Connecticut homes for the disabled by the Hartford Courant. "The state needs to take action as quickly as possible to address the issues raised in this disturbing report."


Group home workers are required by law to report all injuries and signs of abuse or neglect to a state social services agency. In Connecticut, the Department of Developmental Services is then supposed to pass on particularly alarming reports2014 those of severe injury or that might suggest abuse at the hands of staff2014 to an independent state agency called the Office of Protection and Advocacy, which employs specially trained investigators.


But the federal investigation found that Connecticut's oversight system failed at almost every level.


The Inspector General reviewed 152 "critical incidents" where residents came to harm. It found that group home workers understated their severity in more than half the cases; that the state failed to appropriately follow up on 99 percent of incidents that should have raised "reasonable suspicions of abuse or neglect," and that hospital workers, who are also required to report such incidents, failed to do so in all but one of 310 emergency room visits.


As in many other states, Connecticut's developmentally disabled were once held in large institutions with hundreds, even thousands, of beds. Some of those facilities became notorious for abusive conditions, with patients suffering severe injuries and even death. Many of them were shut down and Connecticut has moved people into smaller group homes meant to resemble a family atmosphere and provide better supervision.  


The report looked specifically at people whose care is paid for with federal Medicaid dollars. Currently there are more than 2,000 such beneficiaries living in scores of group homes throughout the state.


"The goal of these programs is to improve the quality of the lives of people with developmental disabilities by moving them out of large institutions and into homes in their own communities," said Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the Inspector General. "The findings in this report suggest there is more work to be done to assure that dream is realized."


The Inspector General is conducting similar investigations in other states. Curt Roy, the auditor who authored the Connecticut report, told ProPublica that those probes have thus far unearthed similar problems.


The results of these investigations are particularly disturbing for Jim Conroy. In 1995, he appeared on a "60 Minutes" episode that focused on an array of abuse allegations at a large Connecticut institution called the Southbury Training School.


In a recent interview with ProPublica, he recalled crying over the level of care being offered thousands of disabled residents. "I told my parents I saw 3,000 American citizens living in a place where we wouldn't put our dog for the weekend," Conroy said.


Conroy, who today is a Pennsylvania-based consultant, has spent the intervening decades helping U.S. states and foreign countries improve quality of care for the disabled. He has long supported the transition to smaller, community-based group homes, pointing at reams of data he has collected showing better outcomes for residents.


That neglect is now happening to residents in those alternative settings disturbs him greatly.


"What we did in institutions was overcrowd, understaff and underpay," he said. "And I am fearful that we are repeating the exact same pattern in our community support systems now."


For its part, the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services agreed with many of the findings in the report and an official with the agency told ProPublica it will continue to "make changes to this system."


As for the woman who was hospitalized 19 times in 15 months, the Office of Protection and Advocacy issued a protective order for her after being confronted by federal investigators. It also initiated a review of her care at the group home.


Peter Hughes, the director of the OPA's abuse division, said he could not comment on the status of that review due to privacy restrictions.


Of the report as a whole, Hughes called it an "eye opener" and said his agency "worked for many, many hours on the report" with the Inspector General and "ultimately everyone wound up agreeing that we really need to do a better job of making reports and evaluating them."


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R Balakrishnan

5 months ago

This is happening in a town that has more billionaires per sq km than any other city in the USA. Money buys nothing

94% willing to be part of e-commerce packaging reuse, says survey
With e-commerce rapidly growing in India, a survey has said that 94% people want to be part of any initiative for re-cycling of packaging material and contribute to the cleanliness campaign.
"Ninety four per cent people surveyed said that they would be willing to recycle for a small incentive," said the survey by LocalCircles, a citizen engagement platform.
The participants were asked if they would take part in box recycling programme towards the cause of Swachh Bharat (Clean India) if e-commerce companies or their affiliates collected empty goods boxes for a small shopping credit. 
The survey report has also been shared with the Urban Development Ministry and the Commerce Ministry. 
According to an Assocham report, digital commerce market in India has grown steadily from $4.4 billion in 2010 to $13.6 billion in 2014. The economic survey said that e-commerce in India is expected to grow at 21.4% in 2015-16 to reach a turnover of $17 billon.
The rise in the number of people using e-commerce is leading to generation of a lot of packaging waste including card board and plastic. Waste generation in India is expected to increase from 62 million tonnes to about 165 million tonnes in 2030. 
Of the waste generated annually in the country, 5.6 million tonnes is plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes biomedical waste, 7.90 million tonnes hazardous waste and 15 lakh tonne e-waste. 
About 75-80 percent of the municipal waste gets collected and only 22%-28% of this waste is processed and treated. 
The Environment Ministry had earlier this year revised solid waste management rules which are now applicable beyond municipal areas. The new rules state that it is the responsibility of generators to segregate waste into three categories - wet, dry and hazardous. 
LocalCircles said it had prepared a list of inputs on "how e-commerce packaging can be recycled" from the responses it received "in the 3,40,000 strong Swatchh Bharat Circle - the largest national community for the cause."
Among the suggestions received was that packaging of delivered products should be taken back by the product company in exchange for some discounts on the next purchase.
It also mentioned several other suggestions - customers could be given reward points on return of packaging material, drop off points could be created for the customers, a third party vendor could be empanelled by each e-commerce company whose contact details can be mentioned on card board boxes.
Another suggestion was that e-commerce company could mention contact information of a registered waste recycler so that the user can contact them to dispose the waste.
There was also a suggestion that entrepreneurs should be encouraged to invest in on-call junk pick-up business and customer could be given a choice to get credit in return of packaging material.
The Swachh Bharat Mission, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aims at achieving the goal of sanitation for all by 2019. Its objectives include elimination of open defecation, conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets, eradication of manual scavenging and 100 per cent collection and scientific disposal of civic solid waste.
LocalCircles has been connecting citizens through social media at local, city and national level to participate in governance and make their urban life better. LocalCircles has more than 1,000,000 citizens connected on it across the country.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.



Meenal Mamdani

5 months ago

It has been obvious for some time that citizens are way ahead of the officials in their desire for recycling. All the ways mentioned in this article deserve a trial.

15 killed in Wardha army ammunition depot blaze
At least 15 people were killed and another 19 injured, some seriously, in a major fire followed by a blast in India's biggest Central Ammunition Depot, Pulgaon in adjoining Wardha district in Maharashtra in the early hours of Tuesday, officials said.
The figure of casualties, including fatalities is expected to increase even as nightlong fire-fighting efforts continued inside the sprawling CAD.
The cause of the blaze is not yet known but fire-fighting operations by the defence fire brigade are underway in full swing at what is Asia's second biggest central ammunition depot.
The damage to assets of defence and fatalities, if any are being ascertained, officials requesting anonymity said.
Local eyewitnesses said that there were multiple explosions after a blaze due to unknown reasons at the defence depot around 1.30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Pulgaon is situated around 40 km from Wardha, the district headquarters, which is 80 kms from Nagpur.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.


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