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News from Disability Rights Ohio is the monthly newsletter from Disability Rights Ohio providing information and updates about case work and activities of Disability Rights Ohio, and other disability-related news.

In this issue:


Disability Rights Ohio issues investigative report on Rose Mary Center

On March 11, 2014, Disability Rights Ohio issued a report on its investigation of Rose Mary Center, a 42-bed intermediate care facility in Cuyahoga County for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. Disability Rights Ohio’s report is based on a review of Rose Mary Center’s records, examination of licensing and oversight documents from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), on-site inspection and observation of the facility, and speaking with Rose Mary Center staff and residents.

DRO’s investigation found that Rose Mary Center is poorly maintained; the facility provides minimal programming, supervision, and engagement of the children and adolescents; equipment in the facility is in disrepair and not readily accessible to the residents; and finally, numerous incident reports were filed that allege physical or verbal abuse by staff. DRO recommended that ODH and DODD conduct rigorous inspections of the facility and impose appropriate sanctions in order to hold the facility and staff accountable and to ensure the health and safety of the residents. DRO also recommended increased documentation of injuries and incidents, and that all residents be assessed to determine whether their needs could be better met in their own homes and communities.

Following the DRO report, DODD, which licenses the facility, conducted an on-site review, stationed a monitor at the facility, and suspended Rose Mary Center from accepting new residents based on non-compliance with state codes. ODH has also conducted a recent review of the facility, but the results of that review are not yet public.

Read the report: Rose Mary Center Report [PDF]

Cleveland Plain Dealer article: State investigating Rose-Mary Center in Euclid over care of residents with disabilities

WKYC-TV: Investigator: Report cites substandard care at Euclid youth home [video]

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Rose-Mary Center, focus of state examination, has been cited numerous times in the past, records show

The News-Herald: Rose-Mary Center in Euclid might lose license

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Disability Rights Ohio files joint "friend of the court" brief in support of combat veteran

Disability Rights Ohio jointly filed an amicus brief in support of a combat veteran appealing his case before the Ohio Supreme Court. His attorneys argued that the court did not properly consider how military service and combat can affect people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They contend his actions were tied to his PTSD and that his experiences in Iraq worsened his pre-existing substance abuse and led him to attempt "suicide by cop."

Disability Rights Ohio attorney Kristen Henry collaborated with the counsel for the defendant and other amicus organizations on defense strategy and other issues and was invited to sit at the counsel table at the Ohio Supreme Court hearing [video].

The defendant is appealing a 27-year sentence for two counts of aggravated assault, including seven years for using a gun to commit the crimes, in exchange for the prosecution dropping two counts of attempted aggravated murder.

Other organizations signing on to the brief include Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, National Disability Rights Network, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio and Ohio Empowerment Coalition. An amicus curiae brief is additional information submitted to the court by interested, but non-related parties who have some knowledge or perspective that make their views valuable to the court.

The decision by the Ohio Supreme Court will help determine how courts should decide sentencing in future cases involving combat veterans where there is evidence of service-related disabilities, including post-traumatic stress disorder. No immediate decision is expected.

Cleveland Plain Dealer article: Ohio Supreme Court case focuses on what impact military-related disabilities should have on sentencing

Read the brief: Merit Brief of Amici Curiae [PDF]

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DD Awareness and Advocacy Day

The 2014 Developmental Disability (DD) Awareness and Advocacy Day was held on March 4th at the Ohio Statehouse. The theme for the event was “What Are You Waiting For?," bringing awareness to the issue of individuals stuck on the waiting list for a Home and Community Based Services waiver. The day was full of events including networking and informational opportunities for stakeholders and guests, inspirational speakers and personal visits with legislative staffers.

Disability Rights Ohio sponsored a booth at the event and sent a large group of staff volunteers to assist with registration and to help guests find their meetings.

DD Advocacy and Awareness Day, Statehouse AtriumIn the Statehouse Atrium, guests were able to hear from John Martin, Director of Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and several individuals from the DD community including Angie Bevington, owner of AngieShred. Speakers discussed a wide variety of issues ranging from how to advocate for oneself to working in the community.

Disability Rights Ohio was also well represented by the event’s speakers. Adam Moss, a former intern of Disability Rights Ohio, spoke about his experience with the TOPS program at The Ohio State University. “I love being a Buckeye,” he proudly told the crowd. He filled the room with his inspirational story built on opportunities like working for Disability Rights Ohio. “It is in hard work that everyone can achieve their dreams,” he explained.

Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (ODDC) announced completion of a study that evaluated the state's waitlist for home and community based services. Based on the report, ODDC plans to ask state officials to supply more waivers to some of the 41,000 people currently on the waiting list for Medicaid waivers for home-based services.

Read the ODDC report: What Are We Waiting For? Waiver Supported Services Needed by Individuals and their Caregivers

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Are you experiencing a denial or delay of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services?

Are you experiencing a denial or delay of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services (example: being told to wait for services, being told to take a break from a work placement, or similar situations)? Have you been told that this is due to a funding restriction or other problem? If so, please contact Disability Rights Ohio, we would like to hear your story.

Last year the federal government was worried that Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) had not been following the rules when it was working with private providers to deliver services. These private providers included programs such as the Bridges to Transition (“Bridges”) Program. Sometimes they are called “VRP3” programs. OOD agreed to change the way it worked with the private providers. But, there is a possibility that services offered through private providers could be delayed or denied. Examples of services provided by private providers include job coaches, training programs, tuition assistance, interpreting services or other services that help people with disabilities find or maintain employment. If this happens to you, you should ask your counselor or coordinator to explain why this is happening and what you can do about it. You should also ask what your appeal rights are.

Disability Rights Ohio wants to make sure that individuals are able to receive the VR services that they need. If you experience a denial of services or a slow-down of services, please call Disability Rights Ohio at 800-282-9181 (TTY 800-858-3542) and dial “2” for our intake department. If you contact us, and your problem is because of VRP3 funding, we have the ability to contact OOD and resolve the issue. We want to hear from you.

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Disability Rights Ohio in the News

Ruth Colker, DRO Board member and Distinguished University Professor at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University, wrote an op-ed for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Proposed Ohio laws mark step backwards for people with disabilities: Ruth Colker - Cleveland Plain Dealer

Kerstin Sjoberg-Witt is quoted in an article about the Parmadale closure.

Parmadale closes its doors this week to residential treatment of youths; plans to offer drug treatment to adults - Cleveland Plain Dealer

DRO is mentioned in an article about a State investigation at Rose Mary Center in Euclid, Ohio

State investigating Rose-Mary Center in Euclid over care of residents with disabilities - Cleveland Plain Dealer

DRO was mentioned in an article about what impact military-related disabilities should have on sentencing decisions

Ohio Supreme Court case focuses on what impact military-related disabilities should have on sentencing - Cleveland Plain Dealer

DRO's Rose-Mary Center report is referenced in this TV investigative report

Investigator: Report cites substandard care at Euclid youth home [video] - WKYC-TV

Michael Kirkman, Executive Director at Disability Rights Ohio is quoted in this article about Rose-Mary Center

Rose-Mary Center, focus of state examination, has been cited numerous times in the past, records show - Cleveland Plain Dealer

Kerstin Sjoberg-Witt is quoted in an article about Rose Mary Center

Rose-Mary Center in Euclid might lose license - The News-Herald

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Bills to Watch:

U.S. Congress: The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act

A bill was recently introduced in U.S. Senate called the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This legislative measure would create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. ABLE accounts could the ease financial strains of individuals with disabilities by allowing them and their families to save pre-tax income for qualified expenses. ABLE account would be similar to college savings accounts, health savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts that are already legal under federal law. ABLE savings could be used for essential expenses for individuals with disabilities, including medical care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. The bill specifies that ABLE would supplement programs like Medicaid and supplemental security income (SSI), and employment income and ABLE savings would not count against an individual’s eligibility for any other federal benefits program. The bill also contains provisions to protect against Medicaid fraud and a Medicaid pay-back provision if funds remain when beneficiary passes away. DRO will monitor the bill throughout the federal legislative process, and encourages the public to contact us with questions or comments about this bill.

House Bill 361

The Ohio House Committee on Health and Aging is considering House Bill (HB) 361, which would require insurance companies in Ohio to include coverage for treatment related to acquired brain injury, including traumatic brain injury (TBI). Traumatic Brain injuries are a common cause of disability in adults, especially veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and they can severely limit an individual’s ability to complete day-to-day functions. When insurance plans fail to cover rehabilitative treatment for brain injuries, individuals may be financially unable to receive the rehabilitative therapies and treatment necessary to continue to work and do other fulfilling activities. DRO applauds Representatives Anne Gonzales and Ryan Smith for introducing HB 361 and will continue to follow its progress in the House. For more information on Disability Rights Ohio’s work for individuals with TBI, check out the article, “March is Brain Injury Awareness Month” in this month’s newsletter.

Voter Bill of Rights Initiative

A “Voters Bill of Rights” amendment to the Ohio constitution may be headed for the November 4, 2014 ballot if more than 385,000 signatures can be secured before July 2, 2014. The proposed initiative’s amendment summary indicates that it would put specific voter rights and protections into the state constitution, including an emphasis on ballot accessibility, expanded early voting opportunities, and on-line registration. DRO is dedicated to advocating for the rights of Ohio voters with disabilities and ensuring that the state fulfills its obligations to those voters under the federal law. An amendment adding these specific rights to the Ohio constitution would expand and enhance Ohioans with disabilities’ voices in our democracy.

For more information on voting rights for individuals with disabilities, check out DRO’s information page on the subject.

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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness month. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow, jolt or bump to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI can happen to anyone. 2.4 million people, including 475,000 children, sustain a TBI in the U.S. each year. 5.3 million individuals live with life-long disability as a result of TBI. In Ohio, people with TBI, experts, advocates and others are trying to improve services and supports for people living with TBI.

The move of Ohio’s Brain Injury Program from the Rehabilitation Services Commission to the Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is one effort to improve services. The mission of the Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation is to conduct research, provide education and develop programs to improve the quality of life of persons who experience traumatic brain injury, so it is well suited to house Ohio’s Brain Injury Program. The Brain Injury Program for Ohio is advised by Ohio’s statewide advisory committee, known as the Brain Injury Advisory Committee (BIAC).

Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) participates on the BIAC, which helps to bring stakeholders together to improve services and supports to people with TBI. Recently, DRO worked with the Brain Injury Program to support its efforts to apply for a grant which would fund a project to help the identification of people with TBI and their need for accommodations necessary for living in the community. If funded, this project would remove barriers to living in the community by providing services and supports that recognize and accommodate the effects of TBI. DRO continues to monitor issues important to people with TBI, such as H.B. 361, proposed state legislation to require insurance companies to provide coverage for “acquired brain injuries.” DRO looks forward to its continued efforts to reach out to Veterans and service members with disabilities, including TBI, by attending regional meetings throughout the state of the Regional Inter-service Family Assistance Committees (RISFAC) which serve to connect the military community with national, state, regional and community resources.

Traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone. An injury that happens in an instant can bring a lifetime of physical, cognitive and behavior challenges. You can’t plan for a brain injury, but once it happens, access to the appropriate services and supports will greatly increase overall quality of life. Advocates in Ohio are working to ensure that these services and supports are available. For more information about TBI supports and services in Ohio, contact the Brain Injury Association of Ohio or the National Brain Injury Information Center at 1-800-444-6443.

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Disability Rights Ohio welcomes attorneys Michael Stack and Samantha Pyatt

Disability Rights Ohio is participating in Florida Coastal School of Law’s Graduate Assistance Program to provide new attorneys with short-term employment opportunities to gain experience and continue to develop their skills. Disability Rights Ohio welcomes Michael Stack and Samantha Pyatt to the team.

Attorney Michael StackStack earned his undergraduate degree from Auburn University and his law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law. He is employed at DRO as a law clerk. While he's had a definite climate adjustment to Ohio’s winter, Stack quickly adjusted to the mission of Disability Rights Ohio. “My favorite thing about DRO is the passion with which the people here advocate for the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities. Such passionate pursuit of human dignity greatly impresses me,” he explained.

Attorney Samantha Pyatt

With a career interest in working for a non-profit organization or government agency, Pyatt, an Ohio attorney, has found herself enjoying the work done at Disability Rights Ohio. “People with disabilities just want to be treated equally and have equal opportunities. Disability Rights Ohio works very hard to make sure these individuals are treated equally and that is very important to me,” she explains as to her draw to Disability Rights Ohio. After earning an undergraduate degree from Kent State University, Pyatt graduated from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2013. She has discovered the office environment and mission to be the best part of Disability Rights Ohio. “Everyone is always helpful and they all work together to achieve a positive outcome,” she explains.

Disability Rights Ohio is pleased to have passionate and dedicated individuals like Stack and Pyatt work with our organization.

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Upcoming Events

Disability Rights Ohio will be at these upcoming events around the state. Be sure to stop by and say hello! If you or your organization are aware of events in which DRO may be interested in participating, please contact our intake department, 614-466-7264 , and then press "2", Toll Free 800-282-9181,  TTY 614-728-2553 or Toll Free TTY 800-858-3542.

Multiple Perspectives Conference, The Ohio State University - April 16, 2014

It's Your Life Regional Transition Fair, Dayton, Ohio - April 22, 2014

Columbus Disability Pride Parade and Festival - April 26, 2014

Cuyahoga County Transition Fair, Cleveland State University Student Center - May 3, 2014

Ohio Rehabilitation Association's Annual Training Conference and 60th Anniversary Celebration, Lewis Center, Ohio - May 15- May 17, 2014

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Support our efforts! Donate online to Disability Rights Ohio.

We believe people with disabilities should be allowed to participate in the community and have a say in how they live, just like people who live without a disability. There is always more to do, but we need your help.

Disability Rights Ohio can now accept donations via PayPal. You can find the PayPal button on our Donate page. Please consider making a donation yourself or come up with a creative way to raise money for our cause. Thank you so much for your support!

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