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sabato 18 aprile 2015


Abusi sessuali, fisici e psichici. Tredici persone morte dal 2002 a oggi in California.

Abusi sessuali, fisici e psichici sono stati svelati da un dossier di 900 pagine su cinque cliniche di salute mentale in California. 

Secondo il Dipartimento di Salute Pubblica,dal 2002 tredici disabili sono morti come conseguenza di tali abusi, di trascuratezza e di mancanza di controllo.

Due donne con disabilità cognitive - afferma il dossier - sono state costrette a rapporti sessuali e sesso orale con un altro paziente maschio in un'area comune di una delle cliniche, senza che nessun dipendente della struttura intervenisse.

Mentre un'altra paziente, non in grado di prestare il proprio consenso ad un rapporto sessuale, è stata violentata. 

Il rapporto afferma inoltre che un paziente è andato in arresto cardiaco come conseguenza diretta degli abusi e ha trascorso 11 giorni in un reparto di terapia intensiva, e un altro è morto per trauma cranico.

Si è poi scoperto che era stato lasciato solo ed era caduto dalla sedia a rotelle battendo la testa. 

La relazione - riportano i media statunitensi - mostra che le cliniche in questione non sono riuscite a proteggere le persone ricoverate e non sono state state in grado di intraprendere politiche di prevenzione e supervisione.

Svelati abusi su disabili in cliniche di salute mentale 17/04/2015

A 900-page report exposes horrific crimes in five institutions, 13 of which ended in death. America's broken mental-health system is downright lethal.

In December of 2010, a resident of Porterville Development Center (a California facility for the intellectual and developmental disabled, or I/DD), broke a rule. The directive he ignored was a simple one, issued by an employee named Alex* who had a history of violence: Stay here.

The 44-year-old, with the cognitive level equivalent to that of a 10-year-old, didn’t stay. He left the group area in which he’d been instructed to remain. “Polite” and “non-aggressive,” according state documents following the incident, he reportedly went to his room with the intention of lying down.

His noncompliance—however mild—enraged 6-foot-3, 400-pound Alex, who stormed into the man’s room, threw him to the ground, and began stomping on his back. Screams from inside prompted other staff to enter and stabilize the resident, holding down all four of his limbs. Alex wasn’t finished. He climbed onto the resident’s back and choked him until he turned a grayish-blue, lost consciousness, and went into cardiac arrest.

Most of the staff members panicked and fled the scene. One pushed Alex off and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation—ordering the attacker to begin chest compressions. Alex reportedly performed just 10 before walking away and muttering, “Fuck him.” The client remained in the intensive care unit for 11 days on a ventilator with bruises in the shape of shoe prints. Eventually he recovered and was released.

Despite a history of abusing clients, including hitting, arm-twisting, and sexual assault, Alex had been cleared to go back to work at the clinic. He attempted to save his job yet again by coercing his colleagues to falsify documents, asserting that the resident had spit on him and hit him. One colleague eventually confessed.

There is a perverse sense in which the client who was beaten so badly was lucky: He lived. Since 2002, a combination of “abuse and neglect” by staff at California state-run facilities for people with I/DD has directly caused the deaths of 13 clients.

This incident is just one on a searingly tragic list that appears in a nearly 900-page document released this month by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Obtained after a two-year lawsuit with the state’s department of health, CIR’s report exposes recent abuses at five California developmental centers—where more than 1,100 patients are housed. With offenses ranging from rape to murder, the pages expose the dark underbelly of facilities designed to keep some of society’s most vulnerable members safe.

The wrongdoings are appalling. Staff at some facilities failed to prevent clients from falls and neglected to treat medical conditions, some of which turned fatal. They did nothing to protect clients from hurting one another—indirectly leading some to gruesomely murder others. They raped clients and placed women on co-ed floors with men who had a history of sexual violence; they used a Taser on residents and were verbally abusive—saying things like “fucking retards” and “That’s why your mom doesn’t like you.” Beyond abuse, the report exposed many of the facilities’ poor physical shape, finding kitchens infested with cockroaches and overrun with rats.
Despite the abundance of evidence, the police repeatedly failed to investigate and prosecute such crimes. 
At least one of California’s developmental centers, Lanterman, closed. Porterville and others remain open. Nancy Lungren, spokesperson for California’s Department of Developmental Services, told The Daily Beast that her organization takes these findings very seriously. “When deficiencies are identified, plans of correction are implemented and submitted to CDPH for approval. Many of the incidences reported are over a decade old and deficiencies addressed and resolved,” Lungren said. “DDS is fully aware of the need for continuous improvement in the delivery of services at the Developmental Centers.”

The release of the Department of Public Health’s investigations raises new questions about the state of mental institutions for people with I/DD in America. Intellectual and developmental disability is often a misunderstood topic. It’s a disability in which people have an IQ below 70-75 and face significant challenges in areas such as self-maintenance skills, social skills, and abstract thinking. It is estimated that 1 to 3 percent of the population has I/DD, manifesting in conditions such as autism and Down syndrome.

Options for long-term care for these individuals have long been debated. Following the Supreme Court’s Olmstead v. L.C. ruling in 1999, there has been a widespread movement to end entirely the housing of people with I/DD in larger facilities. Home- and community-based services (HCBS) are preferred, which involve supporting families so that they can take care of people with I/DD in their family homes. If that is not possible, then housing and support is arranged in very small groups that are dotted around the community.

The National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that helps craft policies related to disability, issued a report based on peer-reviewed research comparing large facilities with various home- and community-based options. The preponderance of the peer-reviewed data they gathered indicate that people with I/DD who live alone, with their families, or in very small group settings—as opposed to those in larger facilities—had more self-determination, were less lonely, experienced greater satisfaction, and exhibited fewer challenging behaviors. Even people with severe disabilities were more likely to be able to make choices for themselves in smaller facilities. Health outcomes, however, particularly regarding obesity, tended to be better in large facilities.

Tony Anderson, executive director of The Arc of California—a national advocacy organization for people with I/DD—is strongly in favor of the HCBS option. “Everyone with a developmental disability can live fully in their community,” he commented.

“We have over a century of evidence telling us that all institutions, no matter how beautiful, no matter how carefully designed, no matter how well-intentioned, fail. Every time,” added Julia Bascom, director of programs at The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, a disability rights organization run by and for autistic people.

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