Kentucky Fines Retarded Adults’ Center for Safety Violations

July 28, 2006

Kentucky’s largest center for mentally retarded adults has been fined $1.4 million for not correcting health and safety violations, state officials announced.

The state inspector general’s office under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued the fines against the Communities at Oakwood in Somerset, about 150 miles southwest of Pikeville. The inspector general has cited Oakwood with 19 violations since January 2005.

The fines are related to 12 of the citations that have not been corrected at the troubled state-run facility where 15 employees have been arrested for allegations of abuse and neglect since June 2005.

Officials said the facility may be fined in the future for the other citations.

“Ensuring the health and safety of the residents at Oakwood remains our top concern,” Cabinet Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell said in a statement.

“Under state law, fines are used to push facilities to correct serious issues that could endanger the safety of residents,” he said. “The Cabinet will continue to hold Oakwood accountable until conditions at the facility improve.”

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