Mother of Disabled Son Goes To Court To Stop State Privatization
The mother of a disabled 51-year-old who lives at a state facility in Hamden is suing the Department of Developmental Services for transitioning its work to the private sector in order to save money.
Lindsay Mathews, whose son, George Griffin, has been a resident of Brook Street in Hamden since the 1970s, is seeking an injunction in New Haven Superior Court to stop the Sept. 20 transition from going forward. Griffin has cerebral palsy and suffers profound intellectual impairments.
At a recent press conference, Mathews said she didn’t believe private sector workers could take care of her son like the state workers she called “family.”
The decision to end all residential services for state residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities was made in August when DDS Commissioner Morna Murray submitted a plan to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office. The plan is expected to save the agency $42 million in 2017 and nearly $70 million in 2018.
Under the plan, 30 group homes will be converted to private operation by Jan. 1, 2017. In March, it announced the closure of two regional centers in Meriden and Stratford. Those facilities will close by October and several other day programs also will be transitioned to the private sector.
Murray has said Connecticut already had reduced its public services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in group homes from 15 percent in 2009 to 10 percent this year.
Mathews, according to the lawsuit, is refusing to sign releases that would authorize DDS to share her son’s confidential medical information with third parties.
“Absent such a waiver, any transfer of care to third parties would necessarily result in placing him in the hands of providers unable to meet his extraordinary needs for sophisticated care,” the complaint filed Friday in New Haven Superior Court states.
The lawsuit goes onto say that DDS informed Mathews that it’s able to release her son’s records to Residential Management Services, the nonprofit provider who won a bid to take over the care of the Brook Street residents, including Mathews’ son.
Mathews received a letter from Thomas Dailey, the regional DDS director on Sept. 1, claiming that it was free to release her son’s records to “qualified entities” that it regards as “business associates” of the department for the “purpose of continuity of care.”
Mathews wrote to DDS to reiterate her objection to the records being released and is asking the court to intervene.
According to the lawsuit, Mathews is hoping the court will require the state and its employees to continue to provide services to her son.
“DDS delivers essential services and supports to some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable individuals. Our focus is assuring necessary services are provided to over 16,000 individuals throughout the state,” Nicole Cadovius, a spokeswoman for DDS, said.
She referred questions specifically about the lawsuit to the Attorney General’s office, which said it’s “reviewing the complaint in consultation with our client agencies and will respond at the appropriate time in court.”