CW: Psychiatric Disabilities, Neglect, Suicide, & Death:
According to a recent analysis from the Disability Law Center, state agencies responsible for overseeing long-term care facilities that are intended to care for some of Utah’s most vulnerable patients are failing.
The 11-page report was issued just days after the Utah attorney general’s office charged the owners of a former unlicensed care facility in Midvale with neglect, abuse, and exploitation. The business was closed last year due to unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
According to ing documents submitted last week in 3rd District Court, the Midvale facility known as Evergreen Place was filled to the brim with raw sewage, had a serious bedbug infestation, and lacked enough fire extinguishers at the time it was shut down.
The investigation focused on Chien Nguyen, 48, who stayed at the Midvale facility for a year before it was closed and subsequently died by suicide at Hidden Hollow Care Center, the Orem facility to which he was transferred.
According to the report, the Orem facility served as a private care center for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, not people with severe and persistent mental health disorders like Nguyen’s. The report highlights 14 deaths at intermediate care centers from 2018 to the present, including those caused by malnutrition, aspiration, and sepsis.
The Division of Licensing and Background Checks, the state agency in charge of inspecting and surveying long-term care institutions, is housed under the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. While DHHS officials were still analyzing the report, the department issued a statement Monday afternoon offering their condolences to those who have lost loved ones while in the care of Utah’s long term care facilities.
Nguyen’s brother Nick noted that Nguyen wasn’t taking well taken care of at the Midvale facility. He hadn’t been given medications or food. Nick was not told of his brother’s suicide attempt at Evergreen Place
According to the investigation, Hidden Hollow was fined $8,000 in connection with Nguyen’s death, as well as another incident in which a staffer allegedly beat a patient and fractured the resident’s teeth. For one month, the facility was also prohibited from admitting any new residents.
Everybody deserves to live in the community. Home and community-based services are provided by Medicaid. Institutional care is much more expensive than care in the community.
Nationwide, there is also a shortage of direct care workers which needs to be addressed because care can’t wait. People suffer if they aren’t cared for properly.
There is no excuse for abusing, neglecting, or killing disabled people. Their lives are valuable, and they deserve to live life to the fullest like anybody else. Disabled people deserve to live free from abuse.
Harkins, Paighten. “In Utah, ‘inadequate’ Long-Term Care Facilities See Lax Oversight, Disability Law Center Reports.” The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 June 2023, http://www.sltrib.com/news/2023/06/26/utah-inadequate-long-term-care/.