Abuse by five staff members of the Beatrice State Developmental Center has been reported to the state Division of Development Disabilities as the center finds itself embroil in controversy once again.
An internal investigation conducted by the center accuses the five staffers of beating and choking seven residents. It accuses three staff members of looking the other way and not reporting the abuse though required to by state law. Three supervisors face possible disciplinary action, because the abuse happened on their watch. Those accused have been suspended and could lose their jobs if the accusations are proven true.
All of the abuse occurred at one unit. Several of the residents abused have trouble communicating. Some residents suffered minor injuries and bruises. No one had to be hospitalized.
A former employee reported the abuse last month. The internal review began shortly thereafter. The Nebraska State Patrol has been conducting a criminal investigation.
State Senator Steve Lathrop chairs a committee overseeing the center. He says the report is disturbing.
“If you have one person who is abusive to residents, then you may have a rogue employee,” according to Lathrop “When you have 11 people involved in this, that’s a systemic problem and that’s a management issue and that goes back to Health and Human Services.”
Lathrop says his committee will begin investigating the charges immediately. He says it is a setback for the center which had taken steps to recover after losing Medicaid funding in 2009 when it failed to meet federal standards.
The Gage County Attorney is reviewing the report and will decide later whether criminal charges are filed.