Health and Family Services Cabinet
Cabinet, Department of Justice Agree to Lift Oakwood Settlement Agreement
Improvements at Oakwood cited
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have jointly agreed to lift a 2006 Settlement Agreement related to Oakwood, a state facility in Somerset for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The lifting of the agreement reflects the tremendous amount of progress made at Oakwood in recent years,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “This is a true credit to the combined efforts of cabinet staff and others to improve the care provided to these residents.”
For the past five years, CHFS has worked alongside DOJ under the guidelines of the Settlement Agreement to improve care and operations at Oakwood. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky approved the agencies’ joint request to lift the Settlement Agreement on Sept. 29, 2011. The removal of the Settlement Agreement acknowledges the substantial improvement in the care of individuals residing in state intermediate care facilities like Oakwood. The cabinet has agreed to continue working toward the full implementation of a statewide strategic action plan, which is set forth in the agreement.
Improvements made at Oakwood include ensuring active treatment options are available for residents, including opportunities for residents to be active members of their communities. Many Oakwood residents hold jobs or engage in other local activities during the day. In addition, the strategic action plan focuses on increasing the capacity for individuals to live in community-style settings, and on creating more support for individuals with complex behavioral and medical needs in the community. This goal is being accomplished in Kentucky through projects like the just-completed Bingham Gardens Homes and clinic in Louisville.
“The health, safety and welfare of the residents at Oakwood, other state facilities and in community residences have always been our top priority,” said CHFS Secretary Janie Miller. “The removal of the Settlement Agreement marks an important milestone in our efforts to provide the highest quality of care these residents deserve.”
The Settlement Agreement stemmed from civil rights complaints surrounding the operation of Oakwood as a result of a DOJ investigation in 2001. The investigation reported many problems dating back a number of years. In September 2004, CHFS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DOJ in an effort to improve operations of Oakwood.
Miller said the Bluegrass Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board’s on-site management and staff played a key role in the removal of the agreement. The board has a management contract with the cabinet for the operation of Oakwood and a contract to provide community-based mental health, mental retardation/developmental disabilities and substance abuse services.
“The terms of the Agreement provided an important framework to make much-needed improvements,” said Stephen Hall, commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities within CHFS. “We are fully committed to ensuring high quality services in our facilities and throughout our communities that build on the progress already made as we move forward.”