9 fired after abuse report at state home

Patients with disabilities injured

Staff WriterNovember 18, 2010 

Nine workers at a state home for people with developmental disabilities in Morganton have been fired after an alleged case of abuse and the failure to report patient injuries.

The employees at J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center were placed on leave after a series of incidents that took place the weekend of Oct. 22, according to a news release issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services. The nine workers were fired after an internal investigation.

The state did not release the names of the workers fired, but the release said they included two developmental disabilities trainers terminated after allegations of abuse against them were substantiated. A licensed practical nurse, a temporary employee and four developmental disabilities trainers also were fired for failing to report abuse; and one developmental disabilities trainer was terminated for falsification of records and failing to report abuse.

"Any situation or incident involving the injury of any person in our care is treated with an immediate and thorough investigation," Art Robarge, the facility director, stated in the release.

"We have pursued this investigation vigorously and will take whatever steps we need to protect the dignity and safety of our residents. This facility has a long-standing policy that any and all cases of abuse must be reported immediately without exception."

A criminal investigation of the abuse was initiated by Broughton Public Safety, the internal police department at the state mental hospital next to the Riddle Center. Based on the center's internal investigation, officials with the Burke County Department of Social Services were notified and have referred information to the district attorney for possible prosecution.

Mark Van Sciver, a DHHS spokesman, said no criminal charges had been filed.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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