Metro

Advocate says Lakeview closure would be good for residents

EFFINGHAM, N.H. — An advocate for people with disabilities said Friday that the possible closure of a troubled facility for people with brain injuries would be good for the center’s residents.

Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center chief executive Christopher Slover said in a statement this week that the state’s decision to close Lakeview’s special education school and bar any new admissions makes it impossible to continue. He said the center is looking for new ownership after it lost an appeal to keep the school open.

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‘‘Therefore, we will begin working immediately on a plan for an orderly shutdown of the Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center, including the Lakeview School,’’ Slover said.

Lakeview has 88 beds and employs about 280 people.

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Complaints filed by the Disability Rights Center last fall revealed widespread abuse and neglect at the facility, including residents harming themselves and others.

The center said one resident died after losing 50 pounds during a 10-week stay, and, in another complaint, a 20-year-old woman slipped away from her residence when an employee left his post to respond to a disturbance. The woman spent the night in the woods; state Fish and Game officers found her 16 hours later.

The state has since conducted its own investigations of both Lakeview and the Department of Health and Human Services’ oversight and licensing of the facility. The state’s investigations found chronic staffing problems at the center and deficiencies in communication and crisis management.

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An independent report requested by Governor Maggie Hassan also found that a lack of state oversight allowed the neglect at Lakeview to persist for years.

Karen Rosenberg, a lawyer with the Disability Rights Center, said residents at Lakeview would find better treatment in community-based settings such as group homes.

‘‘I’m very pleased to hear they’re shutting down,’’ Rosenberg said. ‘‘We know people have been abused and neglected there. They’re not provided with any meaningful treatment. Their health and safety have been in jeopardy.’’

Slover’s statement did not set a time frame for closure.

‘‘It is possible that the facility can continue under a new operator, and Lakeview is actively working on that plan,’’ Slover said.

Rosenberg said that the centralized treatment approach is detrimental regardless of who owns the center and that community-based providers could fill any void left by Lakeview’s closure.

‘‘People have much richer, fuller, safer lives when they are integrated into their communities with people with whom they have lifelong relationships,’’ she said.

Slover, though, said it would be difficult to find new arrangements for the population Lakeview serves.

‘‘Unfortunately, placement options for our residents are limited ,’’ he said.

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