New York Times reporter Danny Hakim published a major investigative piece today looking at the quality of care in large developmental disability care facilities across New York state.
Despite large budgets, Hakim suggests, the quality of care is often shoddy, neglectful or dangerous. The Sunmount facility in Tupper Lake is one focus of his report, and receives significant criticism:
Patterns of abuse appear embedded in the culture of the Sunmount Developmental Center in the Adirondacks.
Last year, one supervisor was accused of four different episodes of physical and psychological abuse of residents within a span of two and a half months; another employee bragged on Facebook about “beating retards.”
Hakim cites specific cases at Sunmount that sparked investigations and scrutiny:
Around the same time, one Sunmount resident, Eddie Adkins, was set upon by several staff members after he grew upset that he was not allowed to go to the bathroom, according to an internal report provided to The Times by Mr. Adkins’s family…
A deaf resident told state investigators that he saw four state employees punching Mr. Adkins while he was sitting on a couch — “I did not like that,” he told investigators, adding that he was so disturbed that he turned his hearing aid off during the melee.
According to the article, an agency spokeswoman declined to comment on specific cases, but five staff member were placed on administrative leave following the incident.
Hakim’s article appears at a time when Tupper Lakers are deeply concerned about the future of Sunmount, a mainstay of local employment.
Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the facility in November of last year and in response to the state’s fiscal crisis told Sunmount workers “If I was a state worker and just a resident of the state, I would be afraid of what is coming ahead.”