Progress of the Lubbock State Supported Living Center discussed

By Tiffany Pelt - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A state review Monday shows improvements have been made at the Lubbock State Supported Living Center, formerly known as the Lubbock State School, regarding the well being and safety of its mentally disabled residents.

Although the review by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, DADS, sited 11 employees have been fired since May for abuse or neglect of the residents, the same review also commends the center for improving on many of the problems previously reported.

Those problems included a severe nursing shortage, under trained staff, and the overall safety of residents at the living center.

"There is no reason to declare a victory at this time over anything in any of the reports, however substantial progress has been made here in Lubbock and that was absolutely critical," said Chris Traylor, DADS Commissioner.

For five days in September a group of state officials monitored the center to see if those problem areas had been fixed. During the review, officials found the center was "substantially compliant" for 13 of the 21 areas dealing with the safety of residents.

"We've got random drug testing now, criminal background checks prior to people being hired, and fingerprinting. We've got all these things that we can check on before we hire people," said the center's new director Libby Allen, who has more than 36 years experience in state supported centers.

New cameras were also installed to monitor the staff and their actions with the residents.

The most dramatic change deals with the nursing shortage. In May only 57% of the 105 nursing positions were filled. That number jumped to 78% in six months.

But several challenges still face the center. Most notable the retention of employees with a turnover rate for direct care employees at 60%.

These reviews are a result of a $112 million dollar settlement between the Department of Justice and the State of Texas that was prompted by reports of mistreatment. Under the settlement all 13 of the state supported centers in Texas must be in substantial compliance will every aspect underlined in the agreement, such as the 21 areas dealing with safety of residents.

Each area must be considered substantially compliant two reviews in a row with a review being conducted every six months.

The center has until 2013 to comply will all parts of the settlement, that's when the reports will be presented to a court.

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