Two bills calling for changes in the way the state runs its developmental centers are waiting for the governor’s signature. Both bills expedite a developmental center's report of any incident of resident harm or death and more clearly define the internal protection agency's responsibilities.
The bills, by state Senators Mark Leno (D–San Francisco) and Carol Liu (D–Los Angeles) went to the governor’s desk days after the release of a critical inspection report on the Sonoma Developmental Center. The report, made by the Department of Public Health, cited incidences of abuse, neglect, and lapses in care, according to Leslie Morrison of Disability Rights California.
Disability Rights California, an advocacy group with the authority to investigate abuse cases, said the investigation was conducted and the report filed under federal inspection regulations.
California's Department of Developmental Services operates five developmental centers for the state. Each center is partially funded by the state but also receives financial support from Medicare and Medicaid.
In response to claims of negligence in the report, the Department of Developmental Services issued a plan of action for Sonoma Developmental Center about the same length as the original report, each about 250 pages.
“The Department has submitted a comprehensive plan of correction to CDPH to rectify all issues identified in the survey. The plan includes intensive oversight and monitoring by DDS. The plan of correction has been accepted,” wrote DDS's spokesperson, John Schmidt, in an email.
According to the DDS response package, a Corrective Action and Quality Assurance Team of state and national experts has been called upon to review and enact the plan. As of Aug. 1, the team will review all monthly inspections at the center.
“They've hired consultants. The problems touch pretty much every aspect of services there from direct client abuse and neglect to staffing shortages,” said Leslie Morrison, director of the investigations unit at Disability Rights California.
Residents and families are being given new opportunities to provide feedback.
“A quality assessment questionnaire is being made available on every living unit and throughout the facility to allow family members, visitors, and residents to provide feedback and report concerns,” Schmidt said in his email.
If signed into law by Gov. Brown, SB 1522
and SB 1051
also will require developmental center employees to get further training on the reporting of abuse incidences. Brown has until the end of the month to act on bills from the legislative session just completed. If he neither signs nor vetoes bills before Sunday, they become law automatically.