Just weeks after a federal judge placed a halt on the transfers of Murray Center residents without permission of their guardians, those very guardians are receiving letters from the Department of Human Services, looking to speed up the assessment process.
“We remain committed to rebalancing the state’s system of caring for persons with developmental disabilities and are moving forward to secure safe, appropriate homes for Murray residents,” says the letter from DHS Director of Developmental Disabilities Kevin Casey, asking the guardians to “get involved in the process.”
In his July 3, 2013, letter, Casey notes the June restraining order issued by Judge Marvin Aspen that temporarily halts the transfers, discharges and overnight pre-transition visits without the written consent of the resident’s legal guardian.
Casey tells the guardians in his letter that the state has “written consent for many Murray residents and are in the process of transitioning them to their new homes.”
But Murray Parents Association President Rita Winkeler notes that the residents who are wards of the state can be transitioned because their guardians work for the state and written consent is easily obtained.
While Casey cites the June 12, 2013, court order in part, and notes the court’s ruling allows the state to continue pre-transition assessments, evaluations and other planning activities, he fails to mention another part of Judge Aspen’s finding.
Aspen also found that documents signed by guardians and placed in their files forbidding Community Resource Alliance (CRA) from assessing their loved ones are legal and binding.
Winkeler says that while each guardian will have to make their own decision based upon what they believe is in the best interest of their loved one, she reminds guardians that if they are happy with having their loved one at Murray Center they do not have to do anything but ignore Kevin Casey’s letter. She notes that the state may not assess or do any transition activities with their loved one without the guardian’s permission and that is their “legal right as a guardian.”
“I’ve received several calls in response to Casey’s letter,” comments Winkeler. “They’re saying they’re going to ignore the letter and wait the two weeks for the judge to decide IF he is going to allow Murray to close.”
According to Winkeler, close to 200 guardians have placed signed documents in their loved one’s file, prohibiting CRA from performing any pre-transition assessments, or other activities geared toward moving the individual out of Murray Center.
Casey says in his letter that “The Murray Developmental Center’s current census is 245 with eight individuals on pre-transition visits to Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs). Several more have transitioned to private community based Intermediate Care Facilities for persons with Developmental Disabilities (ICF/DD).”
Transitions into “quality care”
Two of the CILAs in Centralia have received two former Murray Center residents each, all of whom are wards of the state and both facilities have received recent scrutiny for questionable conditions of the homes, and questionable care being provided.
The first home failed its initial inspection and the placement of the two male residents was delayed. Once renovations were completed and the residents transferred to the CILA, a staff member working alone had to call 9-1-1 for police assistance, as one resident attacked another and she was physically unable to separate the two.
The second home, despite passing an inspection, was found Tuesday to have multiple leaks in the roof, both over the
bedrooms and the living room and kitchen area. To former Murray residents moved into the home one week earlier. Both are female, one is in a wheelchair and the other uses a walker. Neither participate in a day program outside of the home.
It was then discovered Wednesday that an employee of the CILA company was being charged in Marion County Court with felony abuse of a disabled person in his care, a charge that stemmed from an alleged incident while the worker was employed with another private care provider in Centralia.
Casey ends his July 3, letter, “As always, we are strongly committed to communicating and working closely with Murray residents, families and guardians to ensure that all residents are transitioned to a quality setting of their choice.”
The letter is reminiscent to one sent last year to guardians of Jacksonville Developmental Center residents, in which the guardians were told they had only days in which to decide where their loved ones would be sent, or the state would make the decision for them.