Thursday, May 16, 2002

Mental-retardation director urges training

By Brian Clark
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — Officials who oversee care for the mentally retarded need more training in how to remove abused or neglected people from their homes or other facilities, the director of the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation testified Wednesday.

        Ken Ritchey told a House committee that changes to a proposed bill are needed to require county mental retardation boards to educate workers in emergency removal procedures.

        “I want to make sure that every county board employee ... is fully aware of the process that must be followed in removing someone from a living environment where they may be in jeopardy,” Mr. Ritchey said.

        Mr. Ritchey asked legislators to put the new requirements in a reform bill that officials say would allow them to use a new licensing scheme to crack down on nursing homes for the mentally retarded that fail to prevent abuse and neglect.

        Instead of a lifetime permit to operate homes, the bill would put one- to three- year limits on their state licenses. The department would inspect each home at least once before its license expires to see whether the license should be removed.

        Mr. Ritchey's testimony comes four months after an Enquirer investigation revealed that conditions were so bad at 65 nursing homes over the past three years that state officials threatened to take away vital Medicaid funds. The newspaper also identified 12 people who died under questionable circumstances.

        One of them was 44-year-old Denise Tavner of Dayton. She died of dehydration in a relative's home where she had no water for days at a time. She was emaciated, with lice and urine burns. Dayton police and Montgomery County officials knew about her plight and had the power to remove her from her home. But they didn't.

        The Ohio Legal Rights Service, which represents the rights of the mentally retarded, later found county workers and police needed more training in when to remove people from their homes.

        Jim Knight, a spokesman for the Montgomery County prosecutor's office, said Wednesday three prosecutors met last week but are still “weighing the evidence” before deciding whether to take the case to a grand jury.

        “It's a tough case,” he said.


Killings up 87% over last year
28 slain in Cincinnati neighborhoods
Milestone reached in Fernald cleanup
Monroe mall plan cut from mega to just big
Charter school to open downtown
Commissioners pave way for Sabin expansion process
Curbing take-home cars saves the city $204,000
Norwood to unveil schools' revamping
Obituary: Dr. Mikio Suo, GE Engines engineer
Presbytery addresses gay issue
Ride your bike to bus stop, take a bus to work
Robbers strip man's clothes
Search goes on for two boaters
Teachers begin voting on merit plan
HOWARD: Some Good News
PULFER: A child's tale
RADEL: Ultimate good cop
Conese guilty of soliciting
Diplomas honor service to country
Fairfield mayor admits open meeting violation
Milford to get places to sip, sup
Relay for Life gets bigger every year
Teens find contest fun, but grueling
Troupe provides inspiration
Brownfield cleanup eases liability rule
Business group in Toledo wants new arena downtown
Cigarette tax hike falters in Capitol
Essay contest promotes Ohio learning program
- Mental-retardation director urges training
Ohio high court strikes down same-sex solicitation law
Prison riot leader's sentence of death upheld by high court
Selling dorms proposed
Victim rights endorsed
Flasher gets time in jail
Foal losses decrease from 2001
Human cloning predicted this year
Kentucky News Briefs
Lights to be installed on Pendery Park playing fields
Patton's daughter to leave leadership of state Democrats
Principal openings abundant
Six more sue Louisville church
Study: Minority youths charged, detained more