GARY | Beverly Mitchell was notified Wednesday that her disabled son, who suffered head trauma in a 1980 traffic accident in which he was a passenger, will be moved from his Chesterton group home to a facility in Fort Wayne on Thursday morning.
Mitchell’s 40-year-old son, Keith, is one of 92 disabled residents in 21 Northwest Indiana ARC group homes who either face relocation to Fort Wayne or who will be placed back home with their families.
Mitchell said she was told it will be decided in February whether that will be her son’s permanent residence.
“If we want to bring him back to the area it is up to us to find a place,” Mitchell said. “He is a 6-foot-4-inch-tall guy in a wheelchair who has to be fed and taken care of.”
Beverly Mitchell, 83, who no longer is able to drive, said she is extremely upset with the move, which will make it difficult for her to find rides to see her son, take him to the doctor and be his advocate.
“The shock of this is just terrible,” Mitchell said. “He was told by another person at a workshop and is aware of what is going on.”
Mitchell said the adjustment to a new facility will be traumatic for her son, who has been at the same group home since 2008.
Sally Morris, Indiana ARC assistant director of public relations, said the transfer became necessary after the state decided not to continue its provider agreement with Northwest Indiana ARC for group home services.
ARC group homes are licensed by the state through the Medicaid program, Morris said.
“The state, after a period of review, has found concerns about the group homes,” Morris said. “There were concerns regarding health and safety issues. I think one of the bigger concerns is the problem in keeping continuity with the nursing staff.”
With the transitioning of the NWI clients, Morris said, the state’s chief concern is the health and safety of those individuals. She said the residents moving back with their families will receive ongoing services and still have the option of future residential placement.
Jim Gavin, director of communications and media for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said many of the disabled adults will be moved to the newly licensed Fort Wayne facility.
Gavin said upon FSSA’s request the NWI ARC made key leadership and personnel changes and sought the oversight support of the Arc of Northeast Indiana.
“It became apparent due to the ongoing severity of the health and safety issues posed to our consumers that they needed to be removed from the group homes as soon as possible,” Gavin said.
“We have attempted to make arrangements for our consumers to stay near their families or with their families. Those unable to stay in Northwest Indiana are being moved to a safer and more secure setting in Fort Wayne.”
Gavin said FFSA personnel are at each group home assisting with the moving logistics and ensuring safety.
Gavin said Northwest Indiana ARC will continue to provide home-based programs.