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Report: State facility used, concealed restraint chairs

Posted: Thursday, Nov 21st, 2013

The Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander has been accused of using restraint chairs on disabled clients.

By Ed Close

Herald Reporter

LANDER — The second in a series of reports concerning conditions at the Wyoming Life Resources Center, a Wyoming State facility in Lander operated by the Wyoming Department of Health, adds to the growing controversy over whether the state should close the facility or try to fix all that has been found wrong.

According to the report, the facility used restraint chairs on its disabled, possibly up until June of this year.

Protection and Advocacy System, Inc., (PAS) which issued the reports, is an independent provider of legal advocacy services for people with disabilities, based in Cheyenne. The company is associated with several other advocacy companies established when Congress mandated the creation of a nationwide system of protection and advocacy agencies to investigate abuse, neglect, and exploitation of persons with disabilities in 1975.

In this report, PAS states it has determined the Wyoming Life Resource Center (WLRC) had committed several infractions including the design, construction, deployment and use of restraint chairs. It was further reported there was a course of concealment to hide their use.

The chairs are described as having five-point restraints to lash a person’s hands, feet and torso. The investigation and photographs of the restraint chairs prompted action by the Wyoming Department of Health.

“We do not support the use of any of these devices,” Chris Newman, senior administrator for the Wyoming Department of Health, said in a telephone interview with the Uinta County Herald. “It was my understanding we weren’t using them at the Wyoming Life Resource Center and as soon as we were informed, I ordered them removed and ordered that we not use them.”

The first of the series of reports was released on Sept. 24.

It came to light that on Oct. 2, WLRC Superintendent Virginia Wright was no longer employed by the Wyoming Department of Health.

“I just took retirement,” Wright said in an interview at the time.

Eric McVicker has been named the Interim Superintendent. McVicker was the Department of Health Deputy Chief Financial Officer.

Restraint chairs were used at the old Wyoming State Training Center (now WLRC) several years ago but were removed after a lawsuit.

Another restraint chair was found at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston in early 2011 and was removed when the Deputy Director of the Wyoming Department of Health ordered a moratorium on the use of restraint chairs.

For the complete article see the 11-22-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-22-2013 paper.

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