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Kentucky Offers Incentives To Group Homes As Oakwood Receives 22nd Citation

SOMERSET, KENTUCKY--It was not the best news that Kentucky officials and operators of the state's largest institution could have heard as the facility nears a deadline for a potential cut-off of millions of dollars in federal money.

But it could mean good news for those housed at Kentucky institutions who want to live in homes in the community.

Communities at Oakwood, which houses about 250 people with developmental disabilities, received its 22nd Type A citation -- the strongest possible citation for abuse and neglect -- in the past 20 months. Officials learned of the latest citation on Monday. It resulted from a June 27 incident in which a male resident cut his arms 14 times with nail. That same resident had been the subject of four previous citations in recent months.

The institution's director, Jackie Bouyea, told the Courier-Journal that the incident happened because a staff member familiar with the resident was absent, and another who was not properly trained worked with the resident.

The citation was followed Tuesday by news that former Oakwood employee Julie Stevens was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing a female resident three years ago. Stevens had admitted to dragging the woman across the floor, striking her in the head with a shoe, then shoving her head into a wall. Her personnel file revealed that two years earlier she faced a 10-day suspension after verbally threatening a resident.

Stevens was the first of 15 Oakwood employees charged with abuse or neglect since 2004 to face a prison sentence.

Officials with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the state until September 9 to prove that the people housed at Oakwood are healthy and protected from harm. The federal government has threatened to withdraw $43 million in Medicaid funds for Oakwood -- amounting to about 70 percent of the institution's budget -- if conditions have not improved substantially.

In preparation for a possible shut down, the state has moved 40 residents into community settings in recent months, and plans are underway to move about 80 more soon.

The state is now offering to pay $125,000 a year -- compared to the usual $75,000 -- for the first two years to group homes or other private community residential programs to house anyone now at one of six state-operated institutions.

"I think this is an ultimatum," Mark. D. Birdwhistell, secretary of Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told the Courier-Journal.

"I think it sends us a clear message that our efforts to remedy the ongoing problems are not working."

Former Oakwood worker sentenced for abuse (Courier-Journal)
Oakwood injury citation criticizes staff training (Courier-Journal)
Staff at state facility are frequently injured (Lexington Herald-Leader)
State quickly moving Oakwood residents (Courier-Journal)
Communities At Oakwood (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.

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