Our state saw some devastating legislation passed in 2011 in Senate Bill 5459:
- One man died from negligence – there was laundry detergent stored in a milk carton, left on the counter and this man, who had been moved out of his home at Frances Haddon Morgan Center to a “community” home drank it and consequently died. This man had a known disability of PICA (eating non-food items) but regardless of that, the fact that a non-food item had been stored in a food container is negligence – not accident. I can only imagine the pain and suffering this man experienced in the few weeks between the time he drank this and when he eventually died. He suffered immensely. Yet does anyone care? There were no charges filed. If this had occurred in a day care center I can assure you there would have been charges filed but because this man had a developmental disability and the state was his guardian, there is no one person to watch out for him and advocate on his behalf.
- Our state has passed a law which discriminates against our youth with developmental disabilities. Youth with high support needs who could be cared for safely and appropriately in one of our remaining residential habailitation centers are no longer able to access those services. The only option left is crisis hospitalization or jail. Is this progress?
What is also very disturbing is that this legislation was passed based on false information which was stated as “facts”. These “facts” are not supported by the data from which they were drawn but the legislator who sponsored this bill chose to ignore any information that he found “uncomfortable”. Others, when questioned about the supposed facts told me that they say no benefit in reviewing the questions I raised because the state did the research and wondered why I would even question what the state provided. This is they type of “leadership” we have. This is frightening.
It’s time to pull their heads out of the sand, face the uncomfortable issues and address the questions. Until this happens and there is a real dialogue, there will not be progress.
I have written to the Research and Data Analysis Division of the Department of Social and Health Services asking them to review the “research” report which was used extensively in this damaging legislation. I have written to the Developmental Disabilities Service Task Force raising critical questions that need to be addressed. I am hoping to engage in some real discussions which will tackle real issues and facts.