Disability benefits in the form of social security payments will still be paid on schedule now that a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling was signed on Tuesday, says Disability Scoop. While Medicaid and other entitlement programs have so far been spared from cuts, they could face more as the “Super Committee” devises a plan to cut $1.5 trillion by the end of the year.
The death of two men with disabilities, one autistic and the other with developmental disabilities, in New York underscore the serious challenges in providing long-term care. The recent revelation that the directors of a New York nonprofit, YAI Network, had been using Medicaid funds not only for their high salaries, but for college tuition and the purchase of a Greenwich Village apartment for one of their children, more than suggests the ongoing need for oversight of funds and appropriate training and support of staff.
On Tuesday, 48-year-old Thomas Eason was found in the rear seat of a van on a busy street in East Harlem. According to the New York Times, he was found “collapsed and unresponsive in the last row of seats” around 3:30 pm. The temperature outside the van was about 90 degrees and Eason had been in the van since the late morning. He lived in a 14-bed group home on East Fifth Street run by AHRC New York City, a nonprofit for developmentally disabled adults that contracts with New York state. The New York Times says that AHRC is “one of the largest and oldest nonprofit providers of services to developmentally disabled people in the state,” with an annual revenue exceeding $200 million. AHRC runs group homes with nearly 600 beds.
Eason was transported daily to a day program on Lexington Avenue, near 125th Street. Between 9:00 am and 10:00 am, the other people in the van were brought into the program; why Eason was left behind will be investigated by the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities, a watchdog group. The police will also investigate if leaving him in the van constitutes a crime. Two weeks ago, a bus driver and aide were fired from their jobs and arrested after they left a 4-year-old with disabilities on a Jersey City school bus, as record-setting heat plagued the East Coast.
Eason is described as “nonverbal” and “typically needed assistance walking”; he was known for his “calm, mostly passive personality.” This suggests that he was not able to communicate that he’d been left behind in the van, and that he needed assistance to get out of it. Given that he had “spent much of his life” in AHRC’s programs, one would think that staff at the agency knew about such needs. Didn’t anyone notice he was missing from his day program?
The death by asphyxiation of an autistic man in another New York facility is another wake-up call about training and supervision of staff. 27-year-old Jawara Henry died while being restrained by three workers at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island.
Photo by daysofthundr46
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