Stillwater News Press

Our World

January 3, 2014

Documents shed light on how Enid resource center deals with abuse, neglect

ENID, Okla. — In the past five years at Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid, at least seven employees were disciplined for abuse or neglect.

Three of the workers, who each had direct care and supervision over the developmentally disabled, were fired for their actions.

In one 2012 case, a resident nearly had her thumb amputated when it was caught in a door. One of her caretakers had sent her on an unsupervised trip to the restroom, even though he knew someone should be in visual contact with her at all times. The client was rushed to the hospital to have the thumb surgically reattached.

The employee was suspended without pay for one week, according to documents released by the Department of Human Services. State records show he continued working for DHS for another year.

The information was gleaned from a public records request submitted in July 2013. The records were released this week after a lengthy review by agency attorneys to determine what information in the files was public.

In a five-year time span between 2008 and 2012, there were 144 total referrals, or accusations, made to DHS’ Office of Client Advocacy. Fewer than one-fourth of those were confirmed cases of abuse or neglect.

Only seven disciplinary reports are available, but they are the ones that show the heaviest penalties — suspension without pay and outright dismissal.

DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell said it’s common to receive many more allegations than there are verified cases. Sometimes, a report will be made when there is no evidence to back it up.

“They’re not required to have proof or be able to prove that. If it falls under a certain category, they have to report it,” Powell said.

If a worker or supervisor even suspects that an action or behavior is inappropriate, he or she is required to notify someone. Then it’s up to the OCA investigators to find out if there was any actual abuse or neglect.

“We also see that in child abuse and neglect records. We receive almost twice as many calls to the child and abuse hotlines” than there are verifiable cases, Powell said.

That’s a good thing, she added.

“We want to see more reports. We want to see people acting on behalf of the safety of the residents,” said Powell.

In 2011, a direct care specialist at NORCE was fired for misconduct, neglect, maltreatment and neglect with injury after she watched a client hurt himself.

According to the disciplinary record, the caregiver saw a resident hitting himself in the head until he started bleeding. A State Department of Health surveyor was present and saw the client hit himself for 15 minutes while in the employee’s presence. The investigative report states the surveyor asked if the employee could intervene “and she declined, stating (the client) does that and can’t be stopped.”

The employee, however, had been trained five months earlier on intervention techniques specifically meant for that client. She also testified to a hearing officer she didn’t know the surveyor and thought the person was “new staff.”

The same employee had previous reprimands for misconduct, discourteous treatment and unsatisfactory performance.

DHS holds its employees to a higher standard, Powell said, especially the ones caring for children and the disabled. Anything that comes close to abuse or neglect is not tolerated, she said.

“Many times employees are disciplined for things that maybe the general public wouldn’t view as a big deal,” she said. “But because we are entrusted with the care of vulnerable adults and children, we have to hold our employees to a high standard.”

No criminal or civil charges have been brought against any of the workers who received a final disciplinary report during the time period examined. Although their identities were not redacted from the disciplinary reports and are public record, the Enid News & Eagle decided against publishing their names in the context of this story.

NORCE is scheduled to end operations in 2015, which already has forced some residents’ guardians to seek non-institutional housing and care.

Along with the ones listed above DHS released five other reports. They are the only ones filed between 2008 and 2012 that are available to the public. They include:

• In 2010, a direct care specialist was suspended without pay for 24 hours for leaving a client alone in the bathroom. The client was found several minutes later hitting his head against the floor, which caused a cut to the forehead. A month later, the worker left the same client alone in a van for 20 minutes to care for another resident, although there were no injuries reported.

• A direct care specialist was accused of tipping dining room chairs back with residents still sitting in them, “which frightened the residents causing them to scream or otherwise display mental anguish.” A hearing in 2010 found the employee did not intend to inflict mental anguish, but created an unreasonable risk of harm. For neglect, he was suspended without pay for one work week.

• In 2009, a worker was fired after grabbing a client by the loops of her protective helmet, pulling her up from a couch and shouting, “Get up.” This incident occurred while training a new staffer. According to DHS, the same staffer already had been suspended previously for maltreatment and verbal abuse.

The author of the disciplinary report spoke of the agency’s tolerance to mistreatment.

“NORCE is responsible for the well-being and safety of the individuals we serve and based upon your multiple confirmations of abuse we can not trust the safety of our clients in your care,” NORCE Director Sally Randall wrote.

• A former recreational therapist was suspended without pay for 24 hours for neglect in 2009. According to the documents, she supervised an out-of-town trip and failed to ensure sufficient room for the ride back. Ten clients and six staffers were crammed into two vans, and there weren’t enough wheelchair tie-downs, the report stated. At one point, a wheelchair tipped over and landed on a staffer, who was riding on the van’s floorboard.

• Another direct care specialist was terminated in 2008 before his probationary employment period expired. There was no reason given.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Our World
  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 17, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 16, 2014

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 16, 2014

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 12, 2014

  • Is a paleo vegetarian diet possible?

    Research shows most people can follow a regimented eating plan for a short time. That's not the challenge. The challenge is finding a healthful eating plan you can follow day after day and achieve your long-term health goals. At this point, it doesn't appear that the paleo eating plan meets these objectives for most people.

    April 11, 2014

  • Granddaughter_BH.jpg Duke’s granddaughter visits Enid

    Actor John Wayne left a legacy his granddaughter, Anita Swift, works along with other family members to preserve.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday