December 31, 2006
The Lubbock State School

Here's a disturbing story from last week that had slipped past me.

Shoddy health care, substantial neglect and harmful treatment techniques have jeopardized the lives of Lubbock State School residents, federal investigators said in a report that criticized nearly every part of the facility.

The U.S. Department of Justice report paints a nightmarish picture of the facility that cares for about 350 people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

One man died of an illness that could have been prevented if his doctors and nurses had done something as simple as modifying his diet. Another woman developed excruciating ulcers on her buttocks after lying in urine-soaked diapers. A third resident was grabbed, choked and thrown on the floor when he resisted receiving a shot.

"LSS's provision of health care falls alarmingly short of professional standards of care," said the report, which was issued Dec. 11 but was not posted on the department's Web site until Thursday.

That report is here (PDF).

Michael Jones, a spokesman for the state agency that oversees the state school, said he could not comment on the report's contents because "it's still a potential legal matter." But he would say the facility has a new management team that has worked hard to improve training and hire more medical professionals.

Many of the problems stemmed from severe staffing shortages and training issues, the report said.


The investigators documented scores of problems, including 17 deaths in a year and a half and possible violations of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

That law says states must treat individuals in the most integrated setting possible. But rather than seeking to move obviously capable residents into the community, officials seemed eager to keep them in the facility, the report said.

Emphasis mine. Seventeen deaths in a year and a half, due in large part to staff shortages. Why were there such staff shortages? Take a wild guess.

State Rep. Delwin Jones of Lubbock, who helped get the school built in the 1960s, said he saw some of the report Friday and said state budget cuts put the school in a difficult position.

"A shortage of personnel put them in a tough spot in trying to deliver the quality of care people deserve," he said, adding he would support efforts to upgrade the quality of care.

Budget cuts. Seventeen deaths. Any more questions about why some of us get so pissed off when we don't hear about restoring the draconian cuts of 2003 now that we have a larger surplus than we did a deficit back then?

Oh, and another thing we tend to get upset about, from that same session, is how this agency came to be:

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) was established in September 2004 as a result of House Bill 2292 (78th Texas Legislature), which consolidated:

  • mental retardation services and state school programs of the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation

  • community care, nursing facility, and long-term care regulatory services of the Department of Human Services, and

  • aging services and programs of the Department on Aging.

Yes, HB2292, also known as the bill that threw 250,000 kids off of CHIP and gave us the excellent adventure known as Accenture outsourcing of THHSC. It's a gift that keeps on giving. Rick Perry may not want to talk about what his legacy will be, but I'll tell you that stuff like this is a big part of it.

My thanks to Citizen Able for the heads up on this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 31, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack