Newsroom > DHHS News Release


June 30, 2008

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287


Department of Justice Applauds DHHS Efforts at BSDC

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Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached a settlement regarding the care given to people served at the Beatrice State Developmental Center (BSDC).

"I’m very pleased about reaching a collaborative agreement that affirms the future of BSDC and protects the rights of people with developmental disabilities,"said John Wyvill, director of the DHHS Division of Developmental Disabilities. "The Department of Justice has encouraged our approach of making positive improvements at BSDC. We can continue to focus resources on improving the safety and quality of life of residents at BSDC."

Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at DOJ, said Nebraska officials have demonstrated a genuine commitment to address the needs of its citizens with developmental disabilities in a positive and constructive manner.

"We are very pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with the state to arrive at a resolution that will ensure that the rights of persons with developmental disabilities are protected," Becker said in a DOJ news release. "We applaud the state of Nebraska for its innovative efforts to more effectively serve BSDC residents and ensure their health, safety and welfare."

The DOJ Civil Rights Division visited BSDC in October, 2007 and alleged there were violations of the constitutional or federal statutory rights of people with developmental disabilities being served at BSDC.

The settlement requirements are consistent with the five-point plan announced by DHHS in March. In the settlement, DHHS agrees to the following:

  • Monitoring implementation of the settlement agreement by an independent expert through regular on-site visits to BSDC and quarterly reporting.
  • Protecting residents from abuse and neglect and taking effective steps to minimize or eliminate resident injuries and other significant incidents that impact their health and welfare through zero tolerance policy and adequate staffing.
  • Securing additional professional and medical staffing at BSDC, including a psychologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, and medical personal.
  • Ensuring placement of BSDC clients in most integrated setting possible and providing enhanced counseling for those living at BSDC for many years on community-based service options.
  • Enhancing transition plans for individuals served at BSDC.
  • Developing and expanding community capacity and monitoring of community placements, which includes expansion of BSDC’s intensive treatment services (ITS) and outpatient treatment service (OTS) programs.
  • Enhancing the Health Care Service (mortality review committee, peer review of medical staff) and monitor use of psychotropic medications.
  • Ensuring that people served at BSDC are free from unreasonable restraints.

Efforts to reduce the number of people served at BSDC so that staffing is consistent with providing quality care are having a tremendous impact already, Wyvill said. For example, in December, 2007 the census was 329 individuals, on March 15 it was 305, and on June 27 it was 267. At the same time, mandatory overtime dropped from 604.50 hours for the March 3-16, 2008 pay period to 84 hours for the June 9-22, 2008 pay period.

"We appreciate DOJ’s efforts in Nebraska and are pleased to have reached a settlement that provides for real solutions at BSDC," Wyvill said. "This is another step toward people with developmental disabilities achieving equality before the law."