Home > Uncategorized > DDS says Waltham group home provider must check all homes for insect infestations and plan for possible relocations of residents

DDS says Waltham group home provider must check all homes for insect infestations and plan for possible relocations of residents

As a Waltham group home reopened last week after a month-long shutdown due to a cockroach infestation, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) ordered WCI, Inc., the corporate provider that manages the residence, to assess all of its group homes for “any hazards.”

In a Resolution Letter, dated March 6, DDS Area Director Joan Thompson also stated that the cockroach problem, which resulted in the February 8 shutdown of the Waltham residence, had actually been a “preexisting issue” there.

Thompson said the residence had been “treated a number of times in recent months.” However, it was only in the latest shutdown, which occurred on February 8, that the residents were relocated.

According to the Resolution Letter, the residents had not been relocated during the previous infestation treatments, which presumably involved the application of pesticides in the home. The letter directed WCI to develop “protocols to relocate residents” if “chemical treatments of any kind are needed.”

In the latest instance, the five group home residents were evalucated to a Marriott Hotel in Woburn where they stayed until their return to the Waltham group home last Tuesday (March 7).

Christine Davidson, whose son John is one of the group home residents, said today that she had not been informed of the previous insect exterminations at the home. She said, in fact, that she happened to walk into the home one afternoon a few months ago, unaware that a pesticide treatment had just been done in the residence.

The home was empty at the time, she said, because the four of the residents were at day or work programs and her son had been taken out for lunch.

DDS claims it wasn’t notified of the insect problem

The Resolution Letter also stated that families, guardians, and DDS had not previously been notified of of the ongoing insect problem in the home. However, Christine said that both she and her son had repeatedly complained to WCI over the past year about the roaches and about other unhygienic conditions in the residence.

“John had complained about bugs being in his (breathing machine) mask. Nobody listened to him,” Christine said. She sent us a photo last month of at least two roaches in John’s breathing machine. She had taken the photo while her son was home with her for a visit on the first weekend after the evacuation of his group home.

Christine previously sent us photos of potentially unhygienic conditions in the home in February 2022.

The March 6 Resolution Letter stated that the latest infestation was brought to the attention of WCI when a DDS staff person in the home observed the insects. “Of additional concern is that at the time of the DDS visit, one staff person stated that they were going upstairs to eat to be away from the roaches,” the Resolution Letter added.

DDS does not address allegedly unhygienic conditions

The DDS Resolution Letter was the apparent conclusion of an investigation done by the Department in response to a complaint filed by Christine following the February 8 shutdown of the group home.

In her complaint, Christine stated that the home staff were “not providing proper living conditions,” and that the home was “infested with rodents and roaches,” according to a February 17 DDS letter stating that the complaint would be investigated.

The March 6 DDS Resolution letter, however, did not specifically address Christine’s allegations of unhygienic conditions in the residence, or order the home to be kept in a cleaner state. The letter stated only that WCI must provide “a detailed plan of scheduled visits …to all homes by maintenance and qualified management staff to assess living environments for any hazards.”

Christine said she didn’t think that latter statement was necessarily a requirement that WCI keep the home cleaner. She said, in fact, that a WCI executive told her that the provider will start sending a cleaning crew to the home twice a month. But she said this was at her suggestion and was not the result of a directive from DDS.

Christine said, however, that WCI did not respond to her request that her son be provided with a new bed and bedding following the latest infestation. She said she toured the home on March 7, the day it reopend, and that “everything still looked grimy. I had expected to see the home enhanced. They got rid of the bugs, but the place still looks dirty. Everything is still topsy turvy.”

She said WCI did send an pest control inspector to her own house to make sure the infestation did not spread to it after her son came home from the hotel on weekends to visit her. She said the inspector determined that her home does not have roaches.

We’re glad to hear the bugs are gone from the Waltham residence, at least for the time being. But we are also concerned about the lack of communication from DDS on this matter. As I’ve mentioned before, DDS Commissioner never responded to an email query I sent her about the group home shutdown in mid-February.

In her March 6 Resolution Letter, Thompson appeared to blame at least some of the lack of communication on WCI.

But Christine said she still has not received answers from DDS itself to her ongoing concerns about the house. She said that despite an initial promise from the Deparment to “work collaboratively” with her in the wake of the latest infestation, DDS officials from Thompson’s office have not returned her phone calls.

  1. Anonymous
    March 14, 2023 at 11:50 am

    How many residents are allowed in a Group Home?

    Like

  2. MJ
    March 14, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    This issue needs to be addressed across the board. All group homes need to be clean and sanitary. A standard requirement the Health Inspectors need to come in and inspect on a quarterly basis. Each inspector should have criteria as the inspectors of nursing homes/health facilities do. Not DDS personnel but outside inspectors with written standards, policies, and procedures for the inspection program, which must include, but are not limited to rodents, infestation of bugs, food safety, bathroom, bedroom cleanliness, etc. Strict consequences should be put in place as individual’s lives are impacted by filth. Lack of consequences in any area breeds non-compliance which proves unsafe for individuals.

    I wonder if these cockroaches were allowed for so long, how often were the sheets changed, toilets cleaned, counters sanitized, home dusted, floors washed, on and on. Many of our folks have underlying medical conditions that lack of cleanliness exacerbates.

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