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Arc of Northwest Indiana closing all 22 group homes

Updated: October 3, 2013 5:39PM



The Arc of Northwest Indiana will shut down its 22 supervised living group homes on Thursday and move the 90 residents of those homes to other facilities, agency officials said Wednesday.

That decision also means 120 Arc of Northwest Indiana employees who had worked in those homes are being laid off, agency spokeswoman Sue Crisman said.

The situation arose when the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration became aware of several health and safety issues in the facilities a few weeks ago, FSSA Communications Director Jim Gavin said.

Three homes were decertified by the Indiana Department of Health and, at the behest of the FSSA, the Arc of Northwest Indiana made personnel changes and brought in the Arc of Northeast Indiana for help and oversight, Gavin said.

A problem with providing adequate nursing services at the group homes was the main factor behind the move, Crisman said. Gavin said several clients were removed from homes to receive acute health care services.

“During the last several weeks, the Arc of Northwest Indiana board of directors had been making significant changes” in the operation of the group homes, but it was not enough, Crisman said.

“Changes were made in staff, new people were brought in to run them, but there were still a number of challenges.”

After state officials and clinical staff had been on site for a few weeks, Gavin said they realized the severity of the problems meant that ARC clients needed to be removed as soon as possible from the homes.

“We’ve made arrangements for them to stay with their families in Northwest Indiana if it’s possible,” Gavin said.

While the state Department of Health oversees facilities, the FSSA places residents in homes.

Residents will be moved to several homes, some as far away as Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, but Arc of Indiana Executive Director John Dickerson could not provide the exact number. The placements are intended to be temporary but could be permanent depending on how the families involved feel about the situation.

“We’ve been working to make plans they will be comfortable with,” Dickerson said.

There was “concern about the overall health and safety” of residents,” Dickerson said. “The agency had a really difficult time staffing nurses.”

While the Arc of Northwest Indiana is closing all its group homes, its other programs will continue, Crisman said, including Medicaid waiver housing, day programs and employment training.

David Stupay, president and CEO of Opportunity Enterprises in Valparaiso, said his agency was approached on Monday by the Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services to provide services to those who will no longer be receiving services from Arc of Northwest Indiana. He said OE has secured housing for nine adults with disabilities and will move them into OE locations across Porter County on Thursday.

“Our philosophy has always been to provide the highest quality services to those who need them the most,” Stupay said.

OE has also been approached directly by families that are seeking services for their loved ones with disabilities displaced by the changes at Arc. He said the OE team has compiled a waiting list and will begin providing services to these individuals as soon as possible. Anyone interested in securing services for a loved one can contact Stephanie Calabro at Stephanie.Calabro@oppent.org or (219) 464-9621, Ext. 287.

— Staff writer Teresa Auch Schultz contributed to this report.



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