:: The Charleston Gazette | Problems plague Nitro facility ::

Problems plague Nitro facility

State report cites long list of deficiencies

April 05, 2007

Disabled clients receiving wrong medications. Filthy buildings. Offensive odors. A rat hole.

All are problems that have plagued a South Charleston nonprofit agency’s programs in recent years.

Deaf Education and Advocacy Focus of West Virginia has come under fire in recent weeks in the wake of the Feb. 12 death of 22-year-old Craig Allen Payne at the agency’s West Sattes Adult Day Treatment center Nitro. Payne choked to death on a hot dog given to him by a DEAF worker who wasn’t trained to work with Payne.

A review of state reports over the past two years shows a pattern of deficiencies at West Sattes and at other DEAF programs.

The documents reveal an agency that fails to train its employees, houses mentally retarded and developmentally disabled clients in unhealthy conditions and breaks promises to fix repeated shortcomings. Yet DEAF’s facilities continue to stay open.

“It’s the same things over and over again,” said Clarice Hausch, executive director of West Virginia Advocates, an advocacy group for the disabled that is investigating Payne’s death. “It is chronic. If they haven’t changed anything, everyone in that program is at risk.”

The state revoked DEAF’s license last month after citing the West Sattes facility for “severe deficiencies” that threatened the health and safety of clients. That facility and DEAF’s New Horizon’s program in Boone County remain open, pending an appeal. A hearing is scheduled for April 12.

“The management down there has a lot to answer for,” said Bill Forbes, who is representing Payne’s parents. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

DEAF’s lawyer and state Department of Health and Human Resources officials have repeatedly declined to comment on DEAF’s problems. Continue

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