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Feds Threaten Kentucky Institutions With Closure
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 20, 2005

SOMERSET, KENTUCKY--After they gave their most serious citation -- for the fifth time this year -- to Kentucky's largest state-run institution housing people with intellectual disabilities, federal authorities announced Monday that they would withdraw Medicaid funding for the facility.

The decision means that the state will have to move the 300 residents of Communities at Oakwood within the next 30 days.

"Oakwood cannot continue to exist in its current form," said Mark Birdwhistell, state undersecretary for health.

State officials said they would appeal the ruling, but that they are now looking for living arrangements for those housed at Oakwood. Many residents would be moved to smaller, community-based settings, officials said.

"I think that it's a place that's never, ever going to be reformed or fixed," Maureen Fitzgerald, director of the state division of Protection and Advocacy, told the Courier-Journal.

"Housing that many people together in a congregate setting is a model that's inherently dangerous," she said. "The commonwealth needs to get off its duff and begin supporting those people so they can move into the community and be safe."

Last month, state inspectors issued Oakwood its fourth "Type A" citation this year following the death of a male resident who drowned after workers left him alone in a bathtub.

This past weekend, the state inspector general issued the fifth such citation after learning that a male resident might have been sexually abused at his job site on August 31, and that staff -- including Oakwood's acting director and medical staff -- failed to report the alleged incident, as required by law.

Last Monday, the man was sent back to the same work site where he again came into contact with his alleged abuser.

On Wednesday of last week, state police said they had arrested an Oakwood employee on charges of assaulting four residents in her care.

Dee Anna Sumpter, 36, is accused of hitting, kicking and punching the men. She also is accused of throwing keys at one resident, injuring his face.

Additionally, the September 21 Courier-Journal reported that the Bingham Center, a separate institution which houses 42 people on the grounds of Central State Hospital in eastern Jefferson County, is also threatened with losing its federal Medicaid funding.

The Bingham Center had received a Type A citation in April after a resident left in the middle of the night through an unlocked door. It received its second citation last Friday, over an August 23 incident in which a resident with a history of severely injuring herself had to be treated at the emergency room after she was left unsupervised.

State to downsize Oakwood facility" (Lexington Herald-Leader)
"Oakwood set to lose Medicaid funding" (Courier-Journal)
"Second state care site could lose its funding" (Courier-Journal)

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