CHICAGO (CBS) – State regulators must respond more quickly to investigate claims of abuse at group homes for the mentally disabled, under freshly signed legislation brought about by a 2 Investigators report.
CBS 2’s Dave Savini earlier this year exposed dangers at a Charleston facility and the state’s failure to shut it down. Lois McCann’s adult son, Paul, was brutally beaten, kicked and hit with a frying pan for allegedly taking a cookie inside the Graywood Foundation group home. Staff members were charged with his murder.
Lois McCann faults the state Department of Human Services for not shutting down the facility, even though there had been 33 cases of Graywood staff accused of abusing residents dating back to 2003. Another resident died at the hands of staff.
“DHS did not do their job,” said McCann. “OIG did not do their job. And because of this, Paul is dead.”
The OIG is the Office of the Inspector General for the state agency. Brand-new reports raise questions about the credibility of its investigations.
Long before his murder, Paul McCann reported being hit by staff and he also suffered from what appeared to be a broken nose. OIG investigated and said both claims were unfounded. New reports now find those claims of abuse were actually true.
Attorney Shawn Collins represents Lois McCann in her lawsuit against Graywood Foundation.
“What’s so horrible about this is if the family had been taken seriously by the OIG last year, Paul would still be alive,” Collins said.
Collins blames state regulators. The Illinois Department of Human Services had an internal report warning that Graywood residents were at risk, but neither residents nor their families were warned.
After learning about Paul McCann’s case, state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, sponsored legislation to force regulators to create triggers and move quickly to shut down problem group homes.
“It requires state agencies to take action if there is any report of abuse or neglect. It forces them to do the right thing,” Harris said.
The law also requires state regulators to post inspection reports online. Group homes must conduct employee background checks every six months.
“The law means something and we need to enforce the law,” Gov. Pat Quinn said as he signed the law Governor Pat Quinn signed the law today in the presence of Lois McCann and Paul’s siblings.
An inspector general’s report makes stunning new charges against a Graywood Foundation administrator. It says she obstructed criminal investigations into Paul’s death and even told one of the accused assailants to create a false incident report. She also is accused of delaying Paul McCann from getting any medical treatment.
Graywood Foundation has been shut down. DHS says it is committed to the safety of the people it serves.