Sunday, February 20, 2011

Group Home Dangers


In southwest Pennsylvania there has been a State Institution for Severely Mentally retarded Youths known as Western Center . As much as I do not like seeing people institutionalized
I feel the current situation in this end of the state will ultimately result in needless injury and deaths
of patients who thru a Lawsuit filed by a Disabilities Rights group is closing Western center after
alleging abuse went on there.
But the group home alternative there giving these patients is the wrong thing to do.
And as usual I am right in the middle of the whole thing.
So here’s my story.

I was hired as a sub contractor by a local alarm company who is a dealer for one of the country’s largest
Fire and security Company’s
As such I expected this job to go off with out a hitch with no problems to worry about.
was I wrong.
The first day I arrive at this residence in a wealthy Washington County suburb which is to be converted to a group home to Install
a Commercial fire Alarm and Emergency and exit lighting
I am met by a home employee who advises me that do to hostility by the neighbors to keep a low profile .and keep all doors locked.
I ask all permits etc. have been filed for this work and I am told no .
I call the contractor I am working for and he advises me the company running the group home has signed a letter stating they would get all required permits
I proceed with the job and 2 hours into the job my helper receives a head wound off of a improperly installed light fixture which one of the group home employees did not put the edge guards on to stop this exact kind of accident when he went to go up in the ceiling to fish wires my helper will
require 10 stitches at the local hospital I call 911 an ambulance is dispatched who stops the bleeding enough I can take my helper to the hospital.
I call the contractor im working for to advise of the accident and get chastised for calling for the ambulance. Too Bad I tell him its my call as a Fireman with advanced First aid training I will not play around with a head injury .
The next 2 days I work by myself and On the 3rd day my helper comes back after starting the job I realize the plans as drawn by the designer are flawed and I make several changes to bring the system to code it is when we start to hook the fire panel into the house wiring system that the
problems with wiring in the house start to rear there head although the original house wiring was correct the previous home owner did everything you could do wrong with wiring
and the group home operator installed a suspended ceiling in the basement in the home to cover up all the violations when I inform them as to the violations I am told they are existing and will not be corrected. I advise them they have to be corrected again I get grief.
I finish my work again I ask were the permits are again they have not been filed for .and I am told they wont be .At this point I have the responsibility as a professional electrician and as required by state law to notify the township code enforcement as to what’s going on in this group home . they upon hearing from me are shocked to find out what has been going on here.
all the work done at the home was never applied for the township demands violations be corrected and permits filed.
and at this point I no longer sub contract for this alarm contractor. I will not work with contractors trying to pull shady deals. It ends up I started getting phone calls from parents of children who
are going into these homes after the whole thing made the local papers and I will be testifying at hearings being held to stop the shifting of these children to less than reliable group homes.
I question the whole group home setup in the first place.
for the following reasons.
At western center there was a staff doctor and nurses on duty at all times, aides assisting children were highly trained well paid professionals who can handle a violent youth episode and a hospital is 5 minutes away and western center is well constructed and fire resistant
group homes use untrained staff .are located 20-30 minutes from a hospital are not well constructed like western center , what if one of the patients gets violent or starts choking
the 2 staffers on duty are unlikely to handle the situation properly or could be outnumbered
or attacked to the point Police intervention will be needed . also there are not the precautions
taken to prevent runaway patients as they have at western center.
I agree group homes serve a purpose but not in this situation.

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