Failed DHHS audit has some families seeking alternative care

Maine family angered by DHHS audit

HAMPDEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Families who have loved ones with developmental disabilities are trying to come to terms with the federal audit that was released last week by the Office of the Inspector General.

The audit showed that Maine's Department of Health and Human services did not meet federal standards for reporting deaths and monitoring critical incidents involving those with developmental disabilities in community based care. The state failed to investigate 133 deaths and didn't report a third of the nearly 3-thousand critical incidents, which included cases of abuse and neglect.
 
Mark and Tracy Beauregard of Hampden have always been their daughter Danielle's biggest advocates. For the last 21 years she has been defying the odds. Danielle was born healthy, but suffered a severe seizure the day after her first birth. It left her developmentally delayed and unable to speak. Right now Danielle lives at home, but they have looked into group homes, especially for when they get too old to care for her. After seeing what this audit brought to light they are looking at other options, like becoming their own service provider.
 
"We're talking about some very vulnerable people," Mark Beauregard said. He is not afraid to speak his mind about the issue. "They don't care about the people with disabilities."
 
While they have always kept a close eye on Danielle and the services she receives, that level of family involvement is not the reality for everyone – and they say this audit is proof of that. The states response -- referencing it's consolidation of departments as a key factor in explaining why these cases fell through the cracks....is just not cutting it for them. 
 
"That really galled me," Beauregard said. "I don't give a crap about anybody's system, your number one job is to protect people with disabilities." He went on to say "It's frustrating that you know it takes something like this to bring it to the forefront."
 
Though the state claims some changes have already been made -- the Beauregard's want to see even more. "Very simple, you start doing your job -- that's all it takes." Beauregard said.
 
We did reach out to D-H-H-S to see if they had any more comment on the audit -- it says anyone with comments or concerns should reach out to the department directly.

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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