Wednesday, August 1, 2012
House Panel Blasts State Human Services For Ignoring Abuse
A House panel took members of Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration to task Tuesday over reports the Illinois Department of Human Services did not follow up on allegations of abuse and neglect after the deaths of several developmentally disabled adults. The Belleville News-Democrat reported in June that the DHS inspector general reportedly deemed those who had died “ineligible for service.”
The paper found 53 deaths since 2003 that the department did not investigate or list in its annual report. In most cases, the individuals were brought into the hospital near death, and health care professionals raised the possibility of potential abuse or neglect, but the patient died before an investigation began.
These men and women passed away and suffered in very horrible ways, ” said Rep. Greg Harris, chair of the House Human Services Committee. He described some of the conditions the disabled adults had faced as “living in filth” and “covered in bedsores.” He said that some had “become emaciated skeletons.” Some “might have been saved if the system had performed batter or even had responded at all to their appalling circumstances instead of parsing legal language,” Harris said.
DHS Secretary Michelle Saddler said that the DHS inspector general’s office only has five investigators and one supervisor who handle reports of potential abuse or neglect. “The reality that all of us are dealing with at each of our levels is that there are only a certain number of resources to go around. There were a tremendous number of unspeakably difficult decisions that were made at every single level of the budget process,” Sadler said.
Lawmakers argued that the intent of the law was clear, and they felt that the inspector general disregarded that intent, but they also said that it may be time to rewrite the statute in a way that leaves no room for confusion and considers the needs of the developmentally disabled and those who would utilize the system to report neglect and abuse cases.
You can read Jamey's full report at: http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/quinn-adviser-sees-serious-problems.html