No, this is not about Anthony Weiner.
It’s about how state and federal tax dollars are poured down a rat hole and used to subsidize violent thugs and menaces in New York state’s health care system for children with developmental disabilities.
O. D. Heck is one of nine large institutions in New York that house the developmentally disabled, those with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome and other conditions.
These institutions spend two and a half times as much money, per resident, as the thousands of smaller group homes that care for far more of the 135,000 developmentally disabled New Yorkers receiving services.
But the institutions are hardly a model: Those who run them have tolerated physical and psychological abuse, knowingly hired unqualified workers, ignored complaints by whistle-blowers and failed to credibly investigate cases of abuse and neglect, according to a review by The New York Times of thousands of state records and court documents, along with interviews of current and former employees.
Since 2005, seven of the institutions have failed inspections by the State Health Department, which oversees the safety and living conditions of the residents. One was shut down altogether this year.
While Jonathan Carey was at O. D. Heck, Health Department inspectors accused its management of routinely failing to investigate fractures and lacerations suffered by residents.
Similar problems can be found across the state. The Broome Developmental Center in Binghamton has been cited for repeatedly failing to protect residents from staff members. One employee there was merely reassigned after encouraging adolescent residents to fight one another.
Patterns of abuse appear embedded in the culture of the Sunmount Developmental Center in the Adirondacks. Last year, one supervisor was accused of four different episodes of physical and psychological abuse of residents within a span of two and a half months; another employee bragged on Facebook about “beating retards.”
The most damning accounts about the operations come from employees — thwarted whistle-blowers from around the state — and the beleaguered family members of residents.
While New York pols are looking after themselves, who is looking out for these most vulnerable members of society?