Feds grant troubled KY institution another reprieve
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 7, 2005
SOMERSET, KY -- Federal authorities have agreed to continue funding for Kentucky's largest state-run institution housing people with intellectual disabilities while the state appeals an order that would have meant the facility's immediate closure.
On September 19, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services announced that it would cut federal funding for Communities at Oakwood by October 14. The announcement came after the agency issued their most serious citation -- for the fifth time this year -- to the institution that houses 300 people.
The agreement gives the state more time to move the residents to community-based settings in a more orderly manner while working to improve conditions at the facility, state officials said.
CMS officials will continue to monitor Oakwood during the appeal process, and could still decide to cut off funding at any time if they believe residents are in danger.
Maureen Fitzgerald, director of Kentucky's Division of Protection and Advocacy, told the Courier-Journal she's glad the state has more time to relocate people, but that she'd like to see all of the residents eventually live in the community.
"I think keeping it open any longer than necessary is putting peoples' lives in jeopardy," Fitzgerald said.
The most recent citation was issued when the state inspector general learned that a male resident who may have been sexually abused at his job site was sent back to the same site to work with his alleged abuser -- after Oakwood's acting director and medical staff failed to report the alleged abuse.
An earlier citation had been issued following the death of a male resident who drowned after workers left him alone in a bathtub.
Last month, state police arrested an Oakwood employee on charges of assaulting four residents at the facility by hitting, kicking, and punching them, and throwing keys at the face of one of them.