Home > Uncategorized > UPDATE: DDS says it will hold provider ‘accountable’ for ‘unacceptable’ insect infestation in Waltham group home

UPDATE: DDS says it will hold provider ‘accountable’ for ‘unacceptable’ insect infestation in Waltham group home

A Department of Developmental Services (DDS) official said this week that the Department intends to hold the corporate provider that operates a group home in Waltham “accountable” for a cockroach infestation that has led to the temporary shutdown of the residence.

As we reported on Wednesday, five residents of the group home for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities were evacuated from the residence last week due to the insect infestation. The residents have been staying at the Marriott Hotel in Woburn since the group home was shut on February 8, according to Christine Davidson, the mother of John Davidson, one of the residents.

The group home is run by WCI, Inc., a provider to DDS. As we reported, Christine has previously raised concerns about what she contends are unhygienic conditions in the residence.

In an email sent on Wednesday afternoon to both Christine and her nephew George Papastrat, who are John’s co-guardians, Jessica Belcher, assistant DDS area director, said she “just wanted to follow up with you about the recent concerns in regard to the cockroach infestation at WCI’s Kendall Park home.”

Belcher stated that, “We agree that this is completely unacceptable and are holding the agency (WCI) accountable to fix the problem and create a plan so that something like this does not happen again.” She didn’t elaborate on what steps DDS is taking to hold WCI accountable.

Belcher aded that, “We understand that this interruption in John’s life is problematic, and we will work collaboratively with you both so that the disruption causes the least amount of stress possible for John.”

Christine said she is glad to receive a message of concern from DDS, but is still having difficulty in getting answers to her questions about situation. She said she has tried for the past two days to reach a top manager at WCI, but he hasn’t called her back. She said she still has not gotten any word as to when the group home will reopen.

Christine also said that among her concerns is that John has not had access for the past week to a breathing machine for treating his sleep apnea. His previous machine was infested by the cockroaches and was reportedly disposed of by the group home.

The email message from Belcher came on Wednesday, a week after the residence was shut down and just hours after our blog post about the matter was published.

In her message, Belcher told Christine and George to “let us know if you feel a meeting between yourselves and DDS is needed at this time.” Christine said she responded by asking Belcher to contact her. She said she hasn’t yet received a response from Belcher.

Belcher also stated in the Wednesday email that DDS “would also like to encourage you to call DPPC (the Disabled Persons Protection Commission) to report any additional concerns that may arise.”

It is unclear whether the group home was ordered shut after an inspection by DDS. The Department conducts licensure inspections of both provider-run and state-run group homes.

I sent an email Tuesday morning to DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder, asking whether the Department had any comment on the shutdown of the home, and whether the shutdown is an isolated incident. Ryder has not yet responded to my message.

We are glad as well that DDS has indicated concern about the situation to Christine and George. But we too would like to see the Department and WCI do more to keep Christine and the other families and guardians of the group home residents informed. There is no excuse for not returning their phone calls.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. M.J.
    February 17, 2023 at 11:07 am

    Where was the oversight that is supposed to be happening?
    Why wasn’t action taken when Christine first brought up the unsanitary conditions?
    What happens if individuals do not have engaged guardians?
    Where was DDS?
    Where were the service coordinators for 5 men?
    Did they not visit?
    Did they not see the filth, bugs, cockroaches? (Guardians did)
    What if anything is documented of what they saw at visits?
    Why is there no immediate action by DDS to ensure John has his breathing machine?
    Is DDS doing anything other than asking if the guardians want a meeting?
    Area Director Belcher why haven’t you called DPPC you have been made fully aware of a dangerous situation? (mandated reporting- includes you)
    Appears the individuals would have lived with cockroach’s and possibly John could have died from not having their breathing machine. Thank goodness there were engaged guardians to continue to bring this forth. This is another example of the true lack of oversight of the private vendors out there. The ability of private vendors to ignore health and safety of a vulnerable population and get away with it way too many times. I find this extremely disturbing as the vulnerable depend on people to do the right thing. When there isn’t competent, continued, and responsible oversite and quick actions to remedy the situation, people can die. It is time to review the continued building up the private vendor community as it appears it is at the expense of the disabled individual’s health and wellbeing. It is time DDS stops letting the private vendors run the show and step in and ensure individuals are truly getting the services that we the people are paying for. It is time to expand placements in State Operated Group Homes where there is true oversight, competent management and they have and are responsive to guardians and individual’s needs.


  2. Pat
    February 17, 2023 at 11:38 am

    DDS’s letter is a FIRST step forward towards upgrading the living conditions at the group home but it also needs to upgrade the service and care that the residents living there receive. I personally experience what a well run group home is as my stepson lives in one that is full of love and caring.


  3. Sara
    February 17, 2023 at 1:13 pm

    Well stated M.J. I sometimes wonder if these people in these higher up positions are just figureheads. It appears that nobody at DDS seems to care about these individuals. It’s only when it reaches a public forum do they act and finally address the problem at hand.


  4. Amelia A
    February 17, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    Finally someone is listening to Christine and taking action on this subject! It would be nice if Jessica Belcher would keep Christine informed as to what is being done to completely sanitize the group home and get rid of the roaches. I think they owe her an apology for not listening to her during the past year when she first informed them that roaches were in her sons room and did nothing to rectify this unsanitary condition. I sincerely hope that soon John will be living in a clean, caring and healthy home.


  5. DAL
    March 14, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    The ongoing infestation of insects at the Waltham group home is a disgrace.

    The neglectful abuse of the disabled is unacceptable .

    The Department of Public Health should do inspections of all group homes for bed bugs, cockroaches, food storage in refrigerators, and overall cleanliness including bathrooms on an ongoing basis..

    Group homes should be held accountable, as well as DDS for the lack of oversight to protect our loved ones.


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