- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The new agency responsible for protecting disabled New Yorkers in state care reported 571 confirmed cases of abuse or neglect in its first full year of investigations.

Those findings rose to 1,416 in the first 11 months of this year as more cases were completed. Individual investigations can take months.

The state Justice Center, which operates a 24-hour hotline, said staff took about 84,000 reports in the year that ended June 30, though about 40 percent concerned incidents outside its jurisdiction or requested information. Its jurisdiction is nearly 3,000 facilities or programs operated, licensed or certified by six state agencies, since June 30, 2013.

“We will continue to work aggressively to stop abuse and neglect, keep people with special needs safe, and promote their inclusion in all aspects of community life,” Executive Director Jeff Wise said in a letter this month accompanying the first annual report to the governor and Legislature.

It showed 15,412 reports classified as alleged abuse or neglect that required investigation, a total that included multiple reports of single cases. Evidence to “substantiate” at least one allegation of abuse or neglect was found in 571 cases, or about 20 percent of the completed cases.

An additional 38 percent of the reports received were classified as significant incidents and 5 percent were 4,504 deaths of “vulnerable persons” in state care that were reviewed by staff investigators or Registered Nurses who determine if further investigation is warranted, according to the report.

Center staff can investigate separately and also review findings of many cases handled by the six service provider agencies.

In its first year, the agency put 17 people on its new do-not-hire list and said caregivers cited for less serious misconduct faced disciplinary measures that included retraining, suspension or firing.

The agency reported 73 arrests and prosecutions in the first year.

In another new report, the center’s preliminary 2014 data through November showed 1,416 cases with at least one substantiated allegation of abuse or neglect, and 3,103 allegations confirmed altogether. A single case often involves more than one complaint.

The latest report listed 980 substantiated cases this year at the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and its contractors, 235 at the Office for Children and Family Services, 155 at the Office of Mental Health, 27 at the State Education Department, 12 at the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and seven at the Department of Health.

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