Our colleagues Matthew Kauffman, Josh Kovner and Dave Altimari revealed in an important series, “Fragile Lives; Needless Deaths,” that abuse or neglect was cited in the deaths of 76 developmentally disabled people in state care from 2004 to 2010. These people lived in public and government-financed private institutions, including group homes in Greater Hartford, that report to the state Department of Developmental Services.
From Sunday’s story:
Another 28 deaths involved allegations of abuse or neglect that couldn’t be substantiated by state investigators. Two deaths are still under investigation.
The Courant’s review of state records associated with the more than 100 deaths revealed systemic flaws in the care of the developmentally disabled, ranging from breakdowns in nursing care to gaps in the training of staff to lapses in agency oversight.
Developmentally disabled people were scalded to death in bathtubs; were fatally injured in falls while on medication that affected their balance; choked to death on solid food while on ground-food diets; died of illnesses despite showing symptoms for days or even months; and succumbed while being physically restrained.
In a separate story, Kovner wrote about the 2007 case of Jason Schools, a 24-year-old who drowned in the Elizabeth Park pond in Hartford. Jason, who was fascinated with water, was left unsupervised during a Saturday trip to the park that his East Hartford group home had arranged. The worker who was supposed to be watching Jason couldn’t swim.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy called for a federal investigation into group home deaths across the country, including cases of abuse and neglect reported at residential facilities that have been privatized.
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