Equip for Equality Again Presses for Closure of Lincoln Developmental Center
Abuse and Neglect Continues at State Facility Despite Pending Decertification
CHICAGO (Dec. 4, 2001) -- Less than a month after Equip for Equality (EFE), the Governor designated and federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System for people with mental and physical disabilities in Illinois, urged Gov. George Ryan to permanently close Lincoln Development Center in Lincoln, Ill., the advocacy and investigative organization is again calling for closure of the facility and requesting that the federal government terminate funding. The urgency is based on new documentation of ongoing abuse and neglect at Lincoln, as recently as Nov. 14, Nov. 18 and Nov. 28, proving that Lincoln residents are still at serious risk for substantial harm.
The information was obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health's (IDPH) recent on-site surveys of the situation and its subsequent Nov. 21 report to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CM&S) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CM&S controls the Medicaid funding that represents one-half of Lincoln's $35 million annual budget. Decertification of Lincoln by CM&S is pending.
With respect to resident protections, the report states that the facility failed to develop and implement policies and procedures to prevent the abuse and neglect of residents, thus resulting in perpetuation of the crisis. Specifically, IDPH monitors documented two more potentially life-threatening incidents involving Lincoln residents exhibiting PICA behaviors (ingestion of nonedible items).
In one case, a 33-year-old male, whose IQ is in the profound range of mental retardation, bit a hole in his pants and swallowed the material. He was also observed by IDPH handling small objects. Although he was supposed to be on total supervision, the two staff in the room did not observe either action. Another incident involved a 28-year-old man, also with profound retardation and identified as previously ingesting lint, string and threads, was escorted to the bathroom by staff but left alone inside. Inspection of the bathroom revealed an unlocked cabinet containing two washcloths. Because of the substantial risks to resident safety demonstrated by these incidents, an "immediate jeopardy" was called by IDPH.
On Nov. 28, two more incidents involving residents with PICA behaviors were reported and are currently under state investigation. One resident ingested plastic wrap, the other possibly ingested a wooden game piece she had been handling.
"It is evident that the situation at Lincoln is not at all improved despite the tremendous scrutiny it has come under and the clear directives by IDPH to take immediate remedial steps," says Zena Naiditch, President and CEO of Equip for Equality. "This facility continues to be plagued by the very same kind of incidents that previously resulted in death and serious injuries to residents and led to IDPH's original recommendation to decertify Lincoln.
"They are also the kinds of incidents we observed during our unannounced visits in October that precipitated our earlier appeal to Gov. Ryan to close Lincoln. It is obvious that there is a real potential for another significant tragedy at Lincoln. The state's attention must be directed toward finding new placements for Lincoln's residents, either in Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs), where possible, or in other facilities that will ensure the safety and well being of the residents," says Naiditch.
For further information, contact Zena Naiditch at 312-341-0022, 800-537-2632 or TTY 800-610-2779.