Home > Uncategorized > Second sudden death reported after a transfer to a DDS group home

Second sudden death reported after a transfer to a DDS group home

We’ve received a report of a second intellectually disabled man who died in the past two months after being transferred to a community-based group home from a state developmental center.

In this second case, the 50-year-old man died suddenly of aspiration pneumonia and a bowel obstruction on July 6, according to the City of Lowell Clerk’s Office, where the death certificate is on file. 

According to sources, the man, who had a history of ingesting foreign objects, died after swallowing a plastic shopping bag in the state-run group home.  He had reportedly lived in the group home for about a year after having lived for most of his life at the Fernald Developmental Center.

We are withholding his name until we can obtain permission to use it from his guardian.

A staff person with the Disabled Persons Protection Commission said the man’s death is under investigation, but would not comment on the cause of death.  

Sources said the staff at the Fernald Center had been aware of the man’s tendency to ingest foreign objects, a condition known as pica, and had watched him closely to prevent him from doing so.  We have received reports that the level of supervision in the group home regarding the man’s pica condition was not as high as it had been at Fernald.

We reported earlier this week about another man who died suddenly of a blood clot in his lung in a group home on July 24, four days after having been transferred there from the Templeton Developmental Center.  Both Fernald and Templeton are among four developmental centers that have been targeted by the Patrick administration for closure.

In both cases, the men had been transferred to state-operated group homes operated by Northeast Residential Services, a division of the Department of Developmental Services.  DDS has refused to discuss or provide any information about these deaths, citing confidentiality and privacy regulations.

We have raised concerns about at least one other incident involving potential lack of supervision in a Northeast Residential Services group home.  In that case, a resident of a Norteast Regional Services home in Chelmsford left the residence unsupervised in May and attempted to rape a pregnant woman who lived next door.

State Senator Stephen Brewer of Barre, whose district includes the Templeton Developmental Center, said in an email to COFAR that he had been made aware of the death of the former Templeton resident and has asked DDS Commissioner Elin Howe to investigate it.  Brewer said he has also asked Howe to halt further transfers to the group home until the investigation is complete.

We think DDS needs to come out from behind its confidentiality veil and take a fresh look at the level of oversight and supervision in its community-based system of care.

  1. August 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    The advocates of transferring such individuals out of institutions and nursing homes appear to be responsible for these deaths. Clearly they don’t care about the people concerned. It’s up to us to make them accountable.


  2. Ed
    August 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    All of us, as advocates, citizens, and taxpayers, need answers to the questions raised by these deaths.


  3. Sue
    August 11, 2011 at 2:03 am

    How many deaths and injuries does it take before the department is held accountable? How many death and injuries does it take before the legislature puts the brakes on these facility closures and takes another look at the community first plan. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that there are major problems here. These legislators should be held accountable. It is there actions or inactions that are allowing these individuals to be put at risk and in harms way. Two deaths that we know of. There are more. Neighbors being attacked. A direct care worker killed. Twelve people injured because their driver was under the influence of drugs. Another incident reported here by a guardian, of abuse that she had to file charges on. And the list goes on and on. What exactly does it take to get a commissioner fired?


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