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Four Oakwood Employees Charged With Neglect In Deaths

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

SOMERSET, KY--Four Communities at Oakwood employees were being held in jail last Wednesday, charged with neglect related to separate deaths last year of two institution residents.

A Pulaski County grand jury indicted and charged Everett McGowan, a 53-year-old team leader, and Lydia Eldridge, a 44-year-old patient aid, with one count each of wanton neglect.

An investigation by Attorney General Greg Stumbo's Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control Division stated that the unnamed resident, who had a history of epileptic seizures, was left alone in the bathtub for about 90 minutes before he was found.

Additionally, Rita Bond, 42, also a team leader, and Elgean Daulton, 61, a patient aid, were each indicted for one count of wanton neglect of an adult for allowing another resident to repeatedly cut himself with a razor blade to the point that he required medical treatment in April, 2004.

If convicted, each faces up to five years in prison.

According to the Associated Press, the grand jury, whose term expires this month, has recommended the future grand jury continue probing "unresolved issues" at Oakwood.

So far this year, state inspectors have issued their most serious "Type A" citation to Oakwood ten times for neglect and abuse problems.

That series of citations prompted federal officials to threaten to cut off Medicaid funds in September, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreed to delay the move while the state appeals the decision and tries to correct problems.

Earlier this month, lawmakers approved a $9.1 million contract for an independent company hired to correct the problems at Oakwood, despite concerns over the cost and calls for the state to regain control of the facility.


Oakwood deal triples to $9 million: Contractor running mental-health center (Courier-Journal)

Former KY Institution Employee Indicted on Abuse Charges -- November 29, 2005

Oakwood Staffer Charged with Abuse of Resident -- October 23, 2005

Feds grant troubled KY institution another reprieve -- October 11, 2005

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I come at this in two different ways and it really bothers me that these people have been abused. Still I do not see them paying someone that kind of money to keep it going. I live here in this community I know some of the people and have known some of the people that work there, they are not all bad and it is their income. Of course they can find other jobs hopefully if it got shut down?

I also come at it from a different perspective and that is that I had some influence that I feel bad about now in keeping it open when it might have been voted closed a few years back. My friend Arthor Campbell asked for it to be closed and I was not as aware of certain things as I am now. I was on the Board of Directors of Kentucky Disabilities Coalition. I was the person that was there because of getting awareness on mental health issues. I had been involved with trying to change the perspectives of Kentucky for a long time asking them to change what they were doing to people. I did not know then what I know now. I was wrong, it should have been closed or at least at that point the people that could have left there should have been allowed to move out into the community and given the supports that they needed.

I have been informed by someone that I trust that is an insider that they are changing it to introduce more and more psychotropic drugging into it. It will become the new place for those considered to mentally ill to live out in the community. That denigrates those that were safe there that needed some place to be for one reason or another and wanted to stay there. So if I can say that I know I was wrong, why can't the state see that they are wrong and start community placements and do away with the drugging of so many minds just to keep people under control. The reason is that it is jobs and money and drug companies that are behind this.

Don't believe me now, and let this happen and see what happens if someone does not stand up against it. I do not think it will be nice or any thing that we will be proud of. I think it will become a mental institution that has some severely disabled people in it that can not protect them selves from what will be going on. This is only my speculation from every thing that I know now and I might be wrong. I will be the first one to admit it when I find out I am. Some of us have to stick up for the right things if others like us for that or not. This is important to me. Even though I am considered disabled I was taught to protect those that were weaker or more helpless then me and many at Oakwood right now are in that position. It is not fair to them or for them.

Thanks, Janie Lee, for commenting. I think Arthur is right. The place should be closed. But too many people in state government -- not to mention parents -- want an institution. They think people "need" institutions, which is wrong. No one does better in an institution than they do living in their own homes.

As for employment, the people who now work as aides at Oakwood could easily be hired by the state to work in the homes of people who moved out of Oakwood into their own apartments. It can be done; other states do it all the time.

I talk a little bit about this at my blog entry on Re-Institutionalization. You can read it here:

You know the thing of it is that if you really try to make it so that all people are treated just as that human beings and people, then there will always be someone that will go against what you do! We are treated so differently in so many ways. Just because we are alive most of the time. It is sad!

I was always raised to treat people as people and so many people don't even understand me when I do that. To help others if I am asked, to do what I can and no more, to let others do as much as they can for themselves while I am working hard to do that for me to and not to think of myself as being different.

If we want equality we can't blame it on our disabilities, and yet society will always oppress us in some ways for them. Many of us if we get to work at all have to work for free, it is a learned thing. I use to think it was just a poor thing, but it happens to the poor and disabled alike.

The best thing that we can do is live one day at a time. I told someone today that our world thinks there is some security that is a false notion and any one that has ever faced a disability or any thing really bad in life know for sure three things 1. Strange things often happen to good people, sometimes even horribly strange things 2. The fact is that we are all the same when we are naked and alone, even if we do have some differences and 3. There is no security and it is almost impossible, the only security we have is the ability to show love for one another. That is it and that is one of the hardest things to do in life!

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