A sense of warmth and cosiness in the Heart of America

Location: Mount Vernon, Ohio, United States

I enjoy good, clean humor. I enjoy listening to people. I like to sit and watch sunsets and holding Terri's hand. I like to spend time with friends.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Now that's a "stumper"!

I just wonder what they used to move this "monster". It took my brother and I 3 hours to grind up one little stump the other day.
For size reference, note pop bottle in foreground. The stump is about the size of our mini-van, if not bigger.
Stump located outside of Marion, Ahia on Rte. 95

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Something to consider after 32 years

The following is an email I shared with my fellow employees. I am adding the article which also helped me to remind people that in some aspects, we haven't changed enough in the last 32 years.

Lest We Forget
Some of you have only known me as special ed. teacher for students with cognitive or learning disabilities, where in reality, I have been more involved with the multihanidicapped severely/profoundly handicapped individuals for most of my volunteer and professional career.The other month in the 4th Grade Ohio history class that I am "included" to help in, the students were learning about what was being developed in the second half of the 1800's. The text book talked about how state "schools" or hospitals were developed to help people with disabilities and mental retardation. The text made it seem that this was a great development. I wish to expound on that a little and ask you to bear with me.
Almost 100 years later, my first teaching job was at Apple Creek State Institute. The institute was involved in a lawsuit due to inhumane treatment of the residents. It began when the Ohio governor was across the road from the institution dedicating a brand new AIR CONDITIONED hog facility. Needless to say, there was no air conditioning at the institution. The parents ended up picketing the governor's visit, demanding at least the same respect for their family members as was given the hogs. The parents asked the institution's Superintendent Delaney what they should do and he informed them they needed to sue him. Thus came Sidles vs. Delaney where the whole process of de-institutionalization began for Ohio.
For many of the families, doctors back then and before often told parents of new borns with handicaps that they should place the child in the institution and forget about them. The institution ended up housing homeless, alchoholics, emotionally disturbed individuals and hearing impaired and blind individuals. When I visited the institution as a college student with one of my professor's in the early 70's, I waited in the "day hall" (about the size of a gym) where there were approx. 50-100 male residents of all ages, with only 1 or 2 staff to "supervise" them. Some of the residents were clothed, many were not. There was feces and urine on the benches that lined the walls and on the floor. There was definitely no air conditioning. There was nothing for them to do other than sit, fight or walk around aimlessly like animals in a cage. Later on, I had also visited Mount Vernon State Institute as a student and toured the programs and it was similar in circumstances. No activities for the residents to learn. Residents attacking each other and bathrooms with no toilet seats, toilet paper and feces on the walls.(almost 15 years later I ended up having an office across the hall from those same restrooms after it had been changed to an administrative building) The year before my wife and I went to work at Apple Creek, 1977, the superintendent told all the staff to turn in their cattle prods and other "behavior control" methods. He had boxes of them turned in.
As a teacher at Apple Creek a few years later, I had about 10-12 students. Most had never been in any formal schooling. I had 18-21 year olds in my class. I had one student who would literally climb up the windows and who would constantly run out the door. I documented him at running out approximately 6 times per ten minute period. He also would eat his clothes. He eventually died of eating and choking on a pair of socks. The residential direct care staff did not give the residents much to drink, because they didn't want the resident "wetting themselves". I had to remove a student from the bathroom one time as he was drinking out of the toilet because he was that thirsty. There were countless situations of that sad a magnitude that I could relay.
I am writing this because I am retiring after this year. After 32 years in education and serving students with disabilities and their families over these years, I have heard people say even to this day that we need to have some place to put these individuals. I still hear people say "They don't belong with us." I do agree there need to be places for those who need the help or for families that are unable to care for their siblings, sons or daughters, but I think we should never forget where we were at one time and hopefully never return to. We must treat all with dignity and with greater respect than we have for farm animals. We should not forget that someday we all will probably be dependent upon others for our own care and that we should treat those who need it now, with the same respect we would wish to be treated with when we also may be so "disabled".

If you would like a great resource book, look up Christmas in Purgatory . I'm not sure who the author is or if it is still in print. But it serves a great reminder of what should have never happened, but unfortunately still happens today.

The following is an article dated April 15, 2008 from the Houston Chronicle by By JEFF CARLTON Associated Press Writer :

DALLAS — More than 800 employees at Texas' 13 large facilities for the mentally and developmentally disabled have been suspended or fired for abusing patients since fiscal year 2004, state officials said Tuesday.
In response to an open records request from The Associated Press, the Department of Aging and Disability Services said that 239 employees were fired or suspended in fiscal year 2007 for the abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents.
There were 200 such disciplinary actions in 2006, 203 in 2005 and 180 in 2004, according to state records. The breakdown by school was unavailable. The 13 state schools and centers combined have about 12,000 full-time employees.
The revelations come a month after Gov. Rick Perry's office confirmed that the civil rights department at the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating allegations of abuse and neglect at the Denton State School, the state's largest with about 650 residents. It's at least the second such investigation into state facilities, including one at the Lubbock State School in 2006 that revealed widespread abuse.
An advocate for the mentally retarded called the number of employees disciplined "stunning."
"It indicates to me that there is clearly a culture of abuse or neglect in these facilities," said Jeff Garrison-Tate, president of San Antonio-based Community Now.
Texas has 13 large institutions, called state schools or centers, in which nearly 5,000 mentally retarded or mentally ill residents live full-time with round-the-clock care. That's about five times the national average. By comparison, New York and California combined have about 4,600 residents living in 17 institutions, according to data compiled by United Cerebral Palsy.
State records show more than 450 incidents of verified abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2007, a year in which the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigated nearly 3,500 allegations at state schools. About 51 percent of the confirmed incidents involved neglect, 31 percent involved physical abuse and 16 percent involved emotional or verbal abuse. Less than one percent of the cases involved sexual abuse.
State officials also acknowledge at least three state school residents have died since 2002 in which abuse or neglect by caretakers was a factor.
Laura Albrecht, a spokeswoman for the Aging and Disability Services office, said the firings and suspensions reflect the state's "strict policy" on abuse and neglect.
"We have gotten even tougher," Albrecht said. "Our employees go through training to recognize abuse and neglect and to report any incidents."
Perry told The AP that the suspensions and firings indicate that state schools are trying to rid themselves of bad employees.
"What I make of it is that the agency is doing its job," Perry said. "If there are individuals who have broken those parameters of employment, they need to be removed, they need to be fired, need to be dealt with."
The Denton facility, where a notorious abuse case occurred in 2002, underwent its most recent comprehensive inspection last April. The school was cited 25 times for failing to meet federal standards.

Citations included:
_ Failure to "ensure clients' rights were protected, including the right to be free from abuse, neglect and mistreatment."
_ Failure to "have or to use policies and procedures that prohibit mistreatment, neglect or abuse of clients."
_ Failure to "have evidence to show that all allegations of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment were thoroughly investigated.
A more recent inspection in January found that the Denton State School "failed to educate direct care staff on basic first aid, health, and emergency needs."
Perry was notified in March that the Justice Department was investigating the Denton school, said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle. The notification letter, obtained by The AP, said the investigation "will focus on protection of residents from harm; medical and nursing care; habilitation and treatment; and the failure to place residents in the most integrated setting as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act ... ."
"We certainly welcome their findings and the governor wants to ensure all residents of state schools receive the highest quality care," Castle said.
State Rep. John Zerwas, a member of a legislative committee studying state schools, said lawmakers need to look into allegations of abuse coming from the institutions.
"If the state is going to assume some of the responsibility for the ongoing care for these individuals then we have to make sure they be provided the highest quality and the greatest safety," said Zerwas, R-Richmond.
Garrison-Tate said he has personally witnessed incidents of abuse and suspects only the most egregious cases result in firings and suspensions.
"The bottom line is people are getting really injured, and they are not safe," he said.
Associated Press reporter Kelley Shannon in Austin contributed to this story.

These little piggies went to market....

You know when you live in the Mid West when this is your view on the way home from work. I was behind 2 trucks pulling ammonia tanks on the way to work the same day.
Picture taken in Mt. Gilead, Ahia.
I followed them all the way to Mount Vernon.