I wanted to share a message from Mohan Mehra, Board President, and Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer, concerning the article in the New York Times, “In State Care, 1,200 Deaths and Few Answers.”



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The New York Times coverage of safety and people with disabilities
We wanted to make sure you are aware of the recent New York Times article, “In State Care, 1,200 Deaths and Few Answers.”The article examines 1,200 deaths over a ten year period that resulted from unnatural causes in group homes operated by the state government and private providers, including a local chapter of The Arc. Examples are given of tragic incidents involving choking and drowning, among other causes.As the nation’s largest organization working on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, we all share the conviction that any death or injury as a result of abuse or neglect of an individual receiving our services is simply unacceptable. Our common goal is to provide the best possible services and supports while making safety a top priority.

The Arc has been in touch with NYSARC to offer our assistance and support. We have learned that a Quality Standards Committee has been established by the NYSARC Board of Governors and is developing policies and procedures to ensure corporate review of any chapter deficiencies and is establishing corporate quality standards.

We want to encourage you, as leaders of our more than 700 chapters throughout the country, to use the occasion of this disturbing news coverage as an opportunity to reexamine your operations and reflect. While all human services providers should have quality and risk management systems in place and should be regularly reviewing safety protocols and operating procedures, is there more that your chapter can or should be doing to reduce the risk of incidents like this taking place? Are there improvements that could be made in incident reporting and review? Is there a need for more staff training? Do you have a crisis management plan in place to guide staff in the event of a crisis, including responding to the authorities and to the media?

The Arc’s national staff is available to provide guidance and be a sounding board as we continue our work to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive the services and supports that allow them to live the kind of life we all want for people with disabilities. We will be reflecting on what we should do with educational programming, technical assistance or other services to help our chapters reduce the likelihood of tragedies taking place in the future. Please share your ideas about what would be helpful to you by email to Peter at berns@thearc.org or Director of Chapter Excellence, Laurie Ertz at ertz@thearc.org.
In the wake of the New York Times coverage you may find that your local media become interested in the services system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For questions about or assistance with responding to the media, contact Communications Director Kristen McKiernan, mckiernan@thearc.org.

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