Sunday, December 18, 2005

yet ANOTHER child tragedy

i don't blame most of the case and social workers. they are overburdened and overworked.

Leeana's Last Day How Incompetence And Neglect Led To A Toddler's Death At A State-Funded Group Home
December 18 2005

Leeana Calendario might have died of any of the complex and chronic illnesses she developed as an infant. Instead, 13 days short of her third birthday, Leeana died of something quite ordinary - respiratory failure as a result of a clogged breathing tube.That's the medical explanation.Just as accurate is that the Bridgeport toddler's death is the result of incompetence and neglect at a state-funded group home for medically fragile children.A confidential, 40-page report by the Special Investigations Unit of the Department of Children and Families says Leeana died at Trumbull House, a privately operated facility licensed and largely funded by DCF. The agency placed Leeana there despite her family's apprehensions about the quality of care there. Leeana suffered from a multitude of problems, including a brain injury common to premature babies, chronic lung disease and tracheomalacia, a weakness in the walls of her airway that required a tracheostomy and a breathing tube in her throat.Many Trumbull House staff members themselves worried, too, that they would be unable to care for such a severely disabled child. Because of the group home's tense working climate, however, and earlier acts of retribution against staff who protested certain policies and practices, most employees were reluctant to challenge the appropriateness of the child's placement. One nurse who did complain to the program director was told to quit if she could not work under the supervisor who'd approved Leeana's placement at the home, an affiliate of St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport.On her final day, Leeana's care was assigned to a licensed practical nurse who had worked at Trumbull House for six weeks and whose only previous experience as an LPN was a six-month stint at a long-term care facility for the elderly. In the child's final moments of most acute need, nurses in the home panicked as she struggled to breathe through a clogged tube in her airway. One grabbed an oxygen mask and placed it over her face, a useless gesture to aid someone who breathes not through her nose or mouth but through a tube in her throat. Perhaps the only thing that makes this story more outrageous is its familiarity. Yet again, DCF, which gets $800 million a year in taxpayer money, has failed in its most basic mission: to keep children safe.Yet again it has failed to provide the standards of care it insists parents meet.And yet again, it is hiding behind its worn shield of confidentiality (read, secrecy), asserting that is in the best interests of the child.We know more now than we often do when catastrophe strikes and DCF mans the barricades. The confidential report tells the story............

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