As Usual, We're Not Taking Care of the Most Vulnerable Among Us



Walter Roche and Anita Wadhwani have a chilling look at the problems with Tennessee's Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Sunday's Tennessean. They got a hold of a report filed in U.S. District Court that shows all the ways we're failing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

From the story:

In group homes and residences for people with intellectual disabilities where care is provided by the state, deaths nearly doubled between 2009 and 2013, from 19 to 34 — even as the population in those homes increased only 11 percent. The state had eliminated independent, outside experts who reviewed deaths to determine whether abuse or neglect was involved. Instead, the department conducts its own review.

They also report how inadequate the healthcare these people receive is — tests not performed, drugs administered improperly, higher rates of keeping people drugged — and how they're abused and neglected, with broken bones left untreated and people having to sit in their own filth.

On top of all that, apparently the State ceased paying for outside reviews in 2008. This is terrible, but darkly funny. Republicans are all for farming out whatever state services they can, except when it means paying for outside review. Then we can just trust the departments to tell us how they're failing.

Though the names of patients were redacted from the report, Roche and Wadhwani tracked down some of the families of people who died while in state care. What they find is families who are left with a sense that something terrible happened to their family members, but feel like they can't get the whole story.

This feels like a variation of the same old story about how our state does things. We give a lot of lip service to how "Christian" we are, but you look at anything we're doing that's ostensibly to help poor people or people with intellectual or developmental disabilities or people who want their infants to survive, it's not even half-assed, it's quarter-assed. It's a good thing we're not actually a Christian state, because, if we were, we'd be about the worst advertisement for Christianity in the nation.

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