:: Nitro day shelter where man died slated to close – Gazette-Mail ::

Nitro day shelter where man died slated to close

April 21, 2007
By Eric Eyre
Staff writer

A South Charleston nonprofit agency is shutting down its programs, three months after a 22-year-old Sissonville man died at the group’s West Sattes day shelter in Nitro, according to a memo sent to employees Friday.

Deaf Education and Advocacy Focus of West Virginia Inc. told workers that the West Sattes Adult Treatment Center and New Horizons program in Boone County will close next week. The day programs serve mentally retarded and disabled adults.

“It’s wrong the way they done us,” said Joanne Stephens, a job coach at the West Sattes site. “A week’s notice is not enough time to find another job.”

The South Charleston agency has come under fire in recent weeks in the wake of the Feb. 12 death of Craig Allen Payne who choked on a hot dog given to him by a DEAF employee who wasn’t trained to work with Payne.

In Friday’s memo, DEAF Executive Director Jackie Bowling said the agency’s board of directors and state health officials couldn’t reach an agreement to keep the programs open.

Several agencies, including Prestera Center for Mental Services, ARC of the Three Rivers, Community Services Inc. and REM-Community Options, have expressed interest in enrolling DEAF’s 50 clients in Nitro and 30 clients in Boone County.

Bowling said DEAF is cooperating with the agencies to place all clients in new facilities. The agency also is trying to set up interviews for its workers, according to the memo.

“All the clients will wind up somewhere else,” said Stephens. “They want some of the staff to follow the clients.”

DEAF was scheduled to appear at a May 9 hearing before the state Office of Health Facility Licensing and Certification. The agency wants to continue to coordinate some services for disabled clients at other facilities. It was unclear Friday whether the hearing will still take place.

DEAF’s lawyer, Diana L. Johnson, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. continued

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