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Governor Says "Enough"; Directs State Cops To Investigate Oakwood

SOMERSET, KENTUCKY--Governor Ernie Fletcher has ordered Kentucky State Police to thoroughly investigate conditions at the state's largest state-operated institution, following new allegations of "physical and mental abuse" of its residents.

"His feeling and statements were that enough is enough," Mark D. Birdwhistell, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told the Courier-Journal about Fletcher's directive.

Fletcher ordered the investigation Thursday, just two weeks after the Communities of Oakwood, which houses about 260 people with developmental disabilities, received its 18th "Type A" citation -- the strongest that can be issued for abuse and neglect -- since January 2005. Birdwhistell refused to give any details about the latest allegations because of the ongoing investigation.

A spokesperson with the Attorney General's office said they were surprised by the governor's latest order because they and the state police are already investigating the facility. In fact, during the past 18 months, the Attorney General has indicted seven Oakwood staff members on allegations of abuse or neglect.

Last fall, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid threatened to stop funding the facility, a move which state officials said would force the institution to close. The state is appealing that decision, while spending $9.1 million to an outside organization to operate the troubled facility for eight months.

"Fletcher wants Oakwood inquiry" (The Courier-Journal)

"State police called into Oakwood investigation" (Lexington Herald-Leader)

"Communities at Oakwood" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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