Unannounced Group Home Inspections Begin in Rhode Island

By Gina Macris

Unannounced inspections of Rhode Island group homes for adults with developmental disabilities began Monday March 28 in the wake of the recent death of a woman who lived in the College Park Apartments in Providence, according to a spokesman for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

College Park closed March 25, the day after the last of the 14 people still living in the apartments were moved to new housing. Since the beginning of 2015, College Park had been the subject of a total of six complaints of patient abuse or mistreatment, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH). 

In addition to criminal investigations underway by the State Police and the Attorney General’s Office,  Elizabeth Roberts, the Executive Secretary of Health and Human Services, has ordered a “comprehensive review” of all licensed group homes in Rhode Island whether they are privately owned or run by the state, according to her spokesman, Michael Raia. He clarified previous indications from BHDDH that the inspections were to target only state-run group homes.

Raia said March 29 that Roberts had asked BHDDH Director Maria Montanaro and Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott to work together on the review, starting with inspections of the homes with the “highest risk assessment.” 

Inspectors and investigators from both the health department and BHDDH are working as a team on the inspections, which are being prioritized according to “incident reports and complaints for a set period of time,” Raia said. He could not immediately elaborate on the time period in question, although he said the initial round of inspections includes both private and state-operated facilities.  

Updating previously available statistics, Raia said there are 27 licensed state-run group homes, excluding College Park, and 251 licensed homes owned by private agencies.

Nine of the privately-run group homes are vacant, leaving 242 homes that house a total of 1,162 people as of Feb. 29, he said.  Raia said 156 individuals live in state-run group homes, and 284 people are with families in shared living arrangements.