Home > Uncategorized > UPDATE: Mother’s house may now be infested with insects from group home ordered shut down last month

UPDATE: Mother’s house may now be infested with insects from group home ordered shut down last month

As Christine Davidson and her son John wait for word as to when John’s Waltham group home will reopen after an infestation of cockroaches and possibly rodents almost a month ago, Christine said her own house may now be infested with the insects.

The group home, which is run by WCI, Inc., a corporate provider to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), was ordered temporarily shut down by the state on February 8 due to the infestation.  Since then, John and four other residents of the group home have been staying in a Mariott Hotel in Woburn.

Christine said that while she still hasn’t been told when the group home will reopen, an executive with WCI invited her to meet him at the residence on Tuesday morning (March 7) to inspect it. She said she was told DDS is scheduled to inspect the home today (March 6).

Christine said that when John first came home for a weekend visit with her last month after having been evacuated from the group home, she saw cockroaches crawl out of his wheelchair. She also found the insects in his CPAP breathing machine, which the group home staff had sent to Christine’s home that weekend. Last week, she said, a roach crawled out from underneath the refrigerator in her kitchen.

“It’s disgusting,” said Christine, who said she has done everything she can to keep her home clean. “This whole thing has been an unending nightmare.”

A letter sent by DDS to Christine on February 17 states that a complaint about the group home infestation was reported to DDS that day, more than a week after the incident. The DDS letter stated that, “the home is infested with rodents and roaches,” and added that DDS would investigate the complaint.

Christine said she doesn’t want her son going back to the residence until WCI provides him with a new mattress in his room, new bedding, and new curtains for his window. But she said the WCI excecutive has so far declined that request. “He (the executive) said if they were to do that for John, they would have to do it for everyone,” Christine said. “I said ‘of course, you should do it for everyone.'”

In an email sent on February 15 to Christine, Jessica Belcher, assistant DDS area director, termed the insect infestation “completely unacceptable,” and said the Department was “holding (WCI) accountable to fix the problem and create a plan so that something like this does not happen again.”

Belcher, whose email didn’t mention the possibility of a rodent infestation as well, also said that DDS would work “collaboratively” with both Christine and her nephew George Papastrat, who are John’s co-guardians, “so that the disruption causes the least amount of stress possible for John.”

Christine said this past weekend, however, that she has lately had trouble reaching Belcher. “I called three times this past week and haven received a call back,” she said.

Christine said that shortly after the group home was shut down, Belcher was responsive to her, and even suggested that John might be able to move to another WCI group home in Waltham. Christine said she was willing to entertain that idea, but was told more recently by WCI that the second residence couldn’t accommodate John, who needs a wheelchair, because the only available bedroom in it is on the second floor.

Christine said she asked Belcher whether a state-operated group home is available in the area for John, but said she has not received an answer to that question.

Christine said she was glad to hear that DDS intends to hold WCI accountable in the matter, but doesn’t understand why nothing was done about her complaints over the past year about unhygienic conditions in the group home. In February 2022, Christine sent us photos of potentially unsanitary conditions inside the group home.

Christine also said the WCI executive told her the provider is offering to exterminate the cockroaches in her own home, but that he did not say when or how that would be done.

Despite the fact that John has now been living in the hotel for close to a month, Christine said she was told by the group home manager that she is not allowed to visit him there. She said the manager did not give her a reason for the prohibition on visits. Such a prohibition would appear to be in violation of DDS regulations stating that family members must be permitted to visit departmental clients at all times.

Christine said a new breathing machine has been delivered to John’s hotel room. But she said John told her he doesn’t want to use it because he is afraid there may be insects in it.

On February 14, I emailed DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder and other top DDS officials to ask for a comment on the incident and whether they considered it to be an isolated case. To date, I have not received a response to that query.

  1. March 6, 2023 at 11:03 am

    I cannot even believe what I am reading.
    1) an insect and possibly rodent infected house
    2) cockroaches in wheelchairs and CPAP machines
    2) residents all staying in a hotel
    3) family not allowed to visit
    4) DDS Commissioner and DDS staff and provider staff do not reply to families and there does not appear to be a PLAN.

    If there is a plan, such as moving residents to other homes, state it and put it into place. If this provider does not have room in other homes it is up to DDS to find other temporary placements for these residents. They are living like homeless people in a hotel, and their families are not allowed to visit?? What is the reasoning for that? Go visit!! DDS has many temporary beds available – some at the Wrentham Developmental Center. Families need to stop taking this abusive treatment and demand action and accountability from DDS. We are returning to the 1960’s. This is an emergency and these vulnerable residents are being treated as unimportant by the very agency put in place to take care of them. Are lawsuits the only thing that works? We have become immune to the situations that the provider system gets away with, and there is zero accountability from DDS or from its oversight department the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, or our new Governor. Shocking, shameful, and sadly not surprising.


    • itanzman
      March 6, 2023 at 3:09 pm

      This has become normalized. When my son’s group home had bed bugs (a few years ago), the individuals also stayed in a hotel while it was being fumigated. I knew that my son wouldn’t do well in the hotel, so I took him home for a few days. I made him put on clean clothes in the hallway so that he didn’t bring the bed bugs into the house. I guess we were lucky because they didn’t restrict visits. None of us know about availability of temporary placements. I didn’t until I read your comment right now.


      • March 6, 2023 at 6:17 pm

        No one knows because DDS doesn’t tell. During Covid, plans were made for apartments at Wrentham Developmental Center to be staffed and ready. To my knowledge, they were never used. If provider staff is available, folks could move into an empty apartment at WDC instead of a hotel. But then they may want to stay? That is the reason no one is allowed in.


  2. Sara
    March 6, 2023 at 12:32 pm

    Maybe the time has come for the media to get involved. There is no reason that these individuals should be living in these conditions. Shame on the people that are in charge of this home for allowing this to have continued this long.


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