A photo of a roof and cupola and weather vane on one of the WLRC’s aging buildings. (Ernie Over photo)
(Lander, Wyo.) – Problems identified in a less-than-positive report on conditions at the Wyoming Life Resource Center (WLRC) are being, and have been addressed throughout the past year said Chris Newman, the senior administrator for the Wyoming Department of Health’s Behavior Health Division (BHD). The BHD oversees the operation of the WLRC in Lander, plus the Wyoming Retirement Center, the Wyoming Pioneer Home, the Wyoming Veterans Home, and the Wyoming State Hospital.
The negative report was compiled by the Protection and Advocacy System, Inc., (P&A) of Cheyenne, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. A five-page public summary of the report was released last week, although it was dated September 24th. The report said the age of the facilities at the Lander center is a contributing factor to keeping residents safe there, a condition which has been compounded by deferred maintenance issues and what the report said was a “failure to use safety devices.”
The report contained numerous examples of incidences where doors and cabinets required to be locked were found unlocked, medicines were found to be unattended and readily available, among other issues. “Many of the buildings at the WLRC are old, poorly maintained and pose significant risks to persons with intellectual disabilities,” the report stated. “These conditions are made more dangerous by an observed indifference to readily apparent risks and a failure to take rudimentary safety precautions.”
Newman said the state had received a copy of the report. “The way the process works is that they have an incident reporting system there (WLRC) and those reports are shared with P&A.” Newman said many of the concerns expressed in the report had already been addressed. Although she did not know the exact time frame of the incidents cited in the report, she said she believed it to be within the past year.
“We always take the reports seriously. The current administration will go through the report and follow-up with information on what they did on those incidents to see if anything was missed,” Newman said. “It’s a process of continuous improvement.”
The BHD administrator agreed that part of the challenge at the WLRC is the age of the buildings there.
“We currently have a masters facility study going on that the legislature ordered in the session before last,” she said. “All five of our facilities are being studied, there have been site visits and inspections. We’ll receive a report next month on what the best use of all of these buildings should be and recommendations on what the direction the state should take.” Newman said the state knew, up front, the concerns related to the buildings. “The study will drive actions on what directions to go, and then it will be reported back to the legislature,” she said.