Home > Uncategorized > DDS launches ‘licensing review’ following allegations of poor care in provider’s group homes

DDS launches ‘licensing review’ following allegations of poor care in provider’s group homes

The Department of Developmental Services is conducting a “special licensing and program integrity review” in response to allegations of poor care in group homes operated by a provider licensed by the Department.

In an August 8 statement provided to COFAR, DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder also said that DDS is investigating the allegations and is requiring the Springfield-based provider, the Center for Human Development (CHD), to implement a corrective action plan. The Department has also conducted unannounced visits to the residences, Ryder stated.

“DDS takes the health and safety of individuals it serves very seriously, and is conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations,” Ryder added.

Ryder’s statement was provided nearly a month after COFAR asked for comment from her regarding a series of allegations raised by Mary Phaneuf, the foster mother of Timothy Cheeks, a 41-year-old resident of a CHD group home in East Longmeadow.

Last year, Phaneuf began raising concerns with CHD and DDS about Tim’s care, including a lack of proper medical care for Tim and no documented visits to a primary care physician or dentist for seven years. Phaneuf also said there were no documented visits to a cardiologist for six years despite Tim’s having been born with a congenital heart defect.

Last week, CHD acknowledged the missed medical appointments for multiple clients, “failures to follow protocols,” and financial misappropriation in two residences. Those problems include an alleged failure to ensure that Tim was receiving Social Security benefits for at least two years, and the alleged diversion of food stamp benefits from Tim and at least one other client.

Despite the seriousness of those issues, an online June 2017 DDS licensure inspection report for CHD on the DDS website did not mention those or similar problems in CHD’s group homes. It was not clear whether the DDS special licensing and program integrity review is intended to examine whether the DDS licensure process fell short in the CHD case.

The 2017 DDS licensure report for CHD did not appear to note any serious issues with medical care in the CHD’s residential facilities except to state that medical plans for two residents “did not fully address all required elements.”  The report stated that “the vast majority of individuals in the survey sample were supported to receive timely annual physical and dental examinations, attend appointments with specialists, and receive preventive screenings as recommended by their physicians.”

In our July 9 email to Ryder, we asked “whether it is possible that the DDS licensure process is not sufficiently comprehensive or thorough to identify issues such as the ones cited (in the CHD case).”

COFAR also asked Ryder in that email whether DDS reviews abuse or other complaints or investigative reports as part of its provider licensure process. Ryder’s August 8 statement did not respond to either of those questions.

COFAR has called for a comprehensive investigation of the privatized DDS system, and has reached out the the Attorney General’s Office and to state policy makers and legislators for support for that. The Springfield Republican, which reported on Tim’s case last week, noted that Attorney General Maura Healey’s office recently met with COFAR, and quoted a spokesperson for Healey as saying they “are learning more about the issues they (COFAR) raised.”

The Republican  included a statement from James Goodwin, CHD president and CEO, apologizing for the issues raised by Phaneuf.

“The quality of our services — the care and support that CHD and Meadows Homes provide to our clients — is our most important value, and in these cases we have failed in not upholding that value,” Goodwin told the newspaper. “We apologize for these failures. We are committed to making the changes needed to regain the trust of our clients and families at Meadows Homes, and to continue to support their health and wellbeing.”

In a statement previously provided to COFAR, Goodwin listed a number of corrective actions that he said CHD has taken since January, including cataloging all medical visits in a database, tracking communication between guardians and caregivers, requiring more rigorous supervision of program leaders, and developing a system to automatically inform family members and guardians of medical appointments and their outcomes.

  1. Maureen Shea
    August 12, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    They admitted it? No doubt due to Cofars hard work and persistence, thanks David that program owes that Foster mother and her Foster son an apology! So happy they are looking into it. Thank You Dave


  2. Anonymous
    August 12, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    One would have hoped (expected?) that the “corrective actions” CHD says it has taken would have already been routine. Nonetheless, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The same might be said of DDS practices.


  3. Anonymous
    August 13, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Lets talk about client #8 who passed away from heart failure Allison Werder, does that come under nothing bad happened as a result of missed medical appts?


    • Slim Shaney brooks
      August 14, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      We’re not suppose to talk about that. Keep that can closed.


  4. Sandy Hollmes
    August 14, 2019 at 5:14 am

    I’ve noticed that the larger the agency the less oversight is rovided for the residents. I don’t know if it is common practice but an agency on the soouthcoast for which I have concerns has the supervisors going home at 4 when their supervisees start work at 4. Hence the stafff is largely unsupervised and it shows. Further, I see the emotional needs of the residents not served even though I know of no stealing of funds. And it seems that the only answers I get from DDS are to the effect that it isn’t their job to tell an agency how to run their operation.. Then what is DDS purpose except to hold ISPs whose objectives are often ignored anyway. My greatest concern is not with residents who can speak up, but the group home for which I have concern consists of three non verbal residents who have autism as well as developmental challenges. Staff seem to have no concept of the sensory and other needs of their residents. Further the only people i sho n the residence who have a voide is staff. How is that protecdting the most vulnerable..


  5. Jack Frost
    August 14, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I as usual Chd is not being transparent in their dealings. The supervisor portrayed as having resigned actually supervised K Walker for her last 6 months of her employment before giving 4 weeks notice after accepting another position elsewhere.


  6. itanzman
    August 14, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you, Dave for doing this. I believe that CHD is not the only provider that has not properly coordinated medical care for individuals. There really needs to be a complete audit of the entire system.


  7. Anonymous
    August 14, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    The truth is this is one individuals deception. And the truth is with her being her being overwhelmed and manipulating the system and gaining trust with her superiors . And being sneaky and falsifying documents. She’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Making things look good on paper and assuming no one notices . But this seems to be isolated. As I believe CHD is a great group home system. These incidents can happen in any system. Seems like they are making adjustments for improvement.


  8. August 19, 2019 at 10:57 am

    AG: Weekly unscheduled visits by volunteer ombudsman. It is quite effective in nursing homes. Any noted deficiencies or concerns from residents must be addressed ASAP because the ombudsman returns the next week….and so on. Good for residents to have as they will be less afraid of retaliation knowing ombudsman will follow up each week. Facility will be aware findings will be documented with DDS database. So simple, so affordable, so effective.


    • itanzman
      August 19, 2019 at 2:38 pm

      The folks on the DDS Citizen’s Advisory Board visit group homes, but these visits are scheduled and coordinated through the DDS. Volunteer unscheduled visits sounds much better. I would be interested in volunteering to do this.


      • Nancy Lima
        September 12, 2019 at 6:20 am

        I would too!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Shady Shane
    September 21, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    They need to look into all medical aspects of CHD nursing. She tends to hid a lot of things or makes them disappear. Did anyone review how SC does and what care if any was given to him. Review that record. Another individual who had no medical treatment in over 7 years. And let’s look at Medical protocols for some, not updated in two years.


  10. Former DDS Staffer
    October 21, 2019 at 3:55 am

    One thing to keep in mind is the staff will do their job when families or anyone else is observing them. Being present for a brief snapshot of time is not going to solve problems. Well, maybe if some volunteers drop in at 2am and wake up the staff, particularly in state run group homes but otherwise just like families they will be sweet talked and catered to at brief intervals then it’s back to business as usual for those not performing their duties.


  11. B-John
    November 5, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    An area Director for DDS was previously a VP at CHD. That’s, no doubt, why DDS wasn’t very forthcoming with information, and really hasn’t done anything about this awful situation.


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