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Left In a Van, Asphyxiated: Two Disabled NYC Men Died Tragically (VIDEO)

Left In a Van, Asphyxiated: Two Disabled NYC Men Died Tragically (VIDEO)
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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.

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45 comments

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7:41PM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

So SAD

10:41AM PST on Jan 27, 2012

Very sad incidents!

6:06PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

Why aren't there protocols to ensure that every one who got on the van also got off? After even one person dies in such a manner, I would think every single facility in the country would have implemented some kind of measure to prevent this! Of course, people with pools still act surprised when small children fall in the pool and drown ("Duhhh, I didn't think she would climb the stairs to the pool..".) Too many stupid people in jobs that require thinking.....

12:44PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

I'm sure the Repricklitans will just see this as a cost reducing measure. Vote Republican and doom your own country.

12:39PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

Once an for all, leave no one in a vehicle who cannot help themselves without assistance. No animals, children/babies, mentally or physically challenged. I don't care how much you make for a living, no one forced you to do the job, but you took it. So, DO IT RIGHT!!! No one forces women who have babies to have them or continue a pregnacy, be responsible! No one told you to get cat or dog, or whatever, so take care of it. What's the problem? I am so frustrated with people DECIDING to be reckless, self-centered and stupid!!!!!

8:33AM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

It seems to me that these jobs are open to almost anyone. And it does not pay much so one can't expect much from these employees. Only specially trained people should have the care of poor helpless individuals.

7:14AM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

I think the biggest problem is these facilities are understaffed, and staff are underpaid. When too few support staff are left to care for too many individuals on a regular basis, its a recipe for disaster.

9:54PM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

How sad. These deaths should not have happened.

9:27PM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

sadly noted............... R. I. P.........................

7:18PM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

As the US becomes more impoverished- physically, economically, mentally, culturally- expect more and more of this.

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