developmental disabilities administration

Courtesy: Kathleen Hesseltine

At Christmastime last December, Sharon Gowdey was a healthy 56-year-old woman with Down syndrome. A video from a holiday party shows her in a Santa hat dancing to a Michael Jackson song as strobe lights light up the dance floor.

Four months later, Gowdey was dead of COVID-19.

“When they turned the ventilator off, it was less than five minutes and she passed away,” said her sister Kathleen Hesseltine.

Gowdey’s decline happened suddenly.

Ryleigh Brimhall

Just before 3 a.m. on Feb. 27, 2019, an overnight caregiver woke up Marion Wilson, a developmentally disabled 64-year-old, so that she could be given a second round of colonoscopy prep medication.

Wilson, who relied on a wheelchair and was said to have the intellectual capabilities of a five-year-old, was scheduled to have the procedure later that same morning. After escorting Wilson to the bathroom, a second caregiver went to the kitchen to retrieve the remaining half gallon of bowel prep that Wilson was supposed to consume prior to the procedure.

But instead of retrieving the GoLYTELY solution from a “squared-off” plastic jug in the refrigerator, it’s believed the caregiver grabbed a round, gallon-sized jug of Heinz All Natural Cleaning Vinegar.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

As families of people with developmental disabilities in Washington struggle to get access to state-paid services, there’s a renewed push to link funding increases to growth in population.

Currently, nearly 14,000 people who meet the state’s criteria as developmentally disabled are not receiving services. They’re on what’s known as the no-paid services caseload.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This January, Carolyn Guinotte took her son Alan to the emergency room because he was unable to go to the bathroom. Alan is 30 years old, autistic and mostly non-verbal. But when it was time for Alan to get out of the hospital, Guinotte and her husband said they couldn’t take him back. 

Courtesy Deborah Davis

Christopher Davis was lying on the floor watching cartoons one night last December while his mother, Beverly, decorated her Spokane home for Christmas.

From time to time, she showed him a decoration. But Christopher, a 46-year-old developmentally disabled man, just pushed them away.

“It’s going to be OK, Chris,” his mother recalled telling him that night. With that, she says, Christopher stood up, picked her up and tossed her across the living room.

Courtesy Tammie Corter

The state of Washington is canceling two more contracts with a troubled provider of in-home care to people with developmental disabilities in Spokane County.

The Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) announced the contract terminations Tuesday, the same day the state placed Aacres Washington LLC (Spokane) and Aacres Washington LLC (Spokane County #2) on provisional certification status “based on serious non-compliance with the law and regulations.”

A major provider of in-home care for developmentally disabled adults in Washington has announced it will cease operations in King County in the coming weeks because of a lack of affordable housing and challenges related to recruiting and retaining staff.

Courtesy of the Davis family

Five months after the state of Washington shut down a major provider of in-home care for the developmentally disabled, the company that took over care for most of the clients has been given 90 days to correct its practices or face decertification of its King County operation based on "serious non-compliance with the law and regulations." 

Courtesy of the Davis family

In an unprecedented move, the state of Washington is shutting down a major provider of in-home care for developmentally disabled adults in King, Spokane and Yakima counties because of repeated serious violations of care standards.