In letter, Senator Griffo urges agencies to improve efforts to protect most vulnerable members of society

 ROME – State Senator Joseph Griffo on Friday sent a letter to officials at the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs seeking answers after a disturbing maggot infestation at a state-run group home in Rome.

In the letter to Kerry Delaney, the acting commissioner of the state’s OPWDD, and Jay Kiyonaga, the executive deputy director of the Justice Center, Senator Griffo stated that both agencies must do better to prevent these acts from occurring again.

“It is with great disappointment that I read disturbing news reports concerning a resident of the state-run IRA #3 facility in Rome whose throat had become infested with maggots, not once but twice,” Senator Griffo wrote. “This incident is not only shamefully reprehensible, but it is totally unacceptable … I am further troubled by the fact that a six-month investigation failed to determine how such a deplorable act of neglect could have occurred, so as to avoid having it happen again.”

Senator Griffo called for a “thorough assessment by OPWDD to determine what shortcomings may exist that allow such unfortunate and inexcusable acts of neglect to occur,” so that these issues can be corrected to ensure that every employee works to the best of their ability to provide adequate care.

He also voiced his frustration at what he believed was an “anemic response” and investigation by the Justice Center, and then called upon the Center to become more transparent with the public about the results of their investigations.

“The Justice Center has a propensity for punishing employees who are merely accused of wrongdoing, yet when there is a case of actual neglect to investigate, the Center’s evaluation would seem to be an anemic response to something so seriously offensive,” Senator Griffo stated in the letter. “The Center then goes the extra step to avoid making this case public, an even more gross dereliction of their duty.”

The following is the full text of Senator Griffo’s letter:

August 11, 2017

 

Kerry Delaney – Acting Commissioner
New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities
44 Holland Ave.
Albany, NY 12229

Jay Kiyonaga – Executive Deputy Director
Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs
161 Delaware Ave.
Delmar, NY 12054

Dear Commissioner Delaney and Director Kiyonaga,

It is with great disappointment that I read disturbing news reports concerning a resident of the state-run IRA #3 facility in Rome whose throat had become infested with maggots, not once but twice. This incident is not only shamefully reprehensible, but it is totally unacceptable. When you consider the period of time it takes for such an infestation to manifest itself, this level of neglect should not have occurred and cannot be allowed to happen again.

I am further troubled by the fact that a six-month investigation failed to determine how such a deplorable act of neglect could have occurred, so as to avoid having it happen again. This has prompted me to write both of you, as the respective heads of the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, to express my urging that your agencies must do better to protect our most vulnerable members of society.

There must be a thorough assessment by OPWDD to determine what shortcomings may exist that allow such unfortunate and inexcusable acts of neglect to occur. Once those issues are identified, they must then be corrected to ensure that every OPWDD employee is working to the best of their ability to provide proper and adequate care.

The Justice Center has a propensity for punishing employees who are merely accused of wrongdoing, yet when there is a case of actual neglect to investigate, the Center’s evaluation would seem to be an anemic response to something so seriously offensive. The Center then goes the extra step to avoid making this case public, an even more gross dereliction of their duty. The Justice Center must become more transparent, because the public has a right to know that our state-regulated facilities are doing exactly what they are supposed to do: care for our vulnerable, ill and disabled individuals, not further their suffering.

This Individual Residential Alternative #3 group home is located in my district, and I will not tolerate a state-run facility that provides anything short of the excellent and professional care that the residents of my community and our state demand and deserve.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and please do not hesitate to contact my office to further discuss this matter. 


Sincerely,


Joseph Griffo                                                                                

State Senator, 47th District        

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