- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2016

Employees fired for alleged abuse of disabled residents at a Colorado medical center blamed “paranormal activity” for the patients’ injuries, according to a federal report.

A report by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said residents had words such as “Die,” “Kill” and “I’m back” scratched into their skin at the Pueblo Regional Center, a center for patients with severe mental, behavioral and physical disabilities, a local CBS News affiliate reported.

Investigators alleged that one resident performed a sexual act on a staff member in exchange for a soda and another was burned with a blow dryer to raise her body temperature.

Staff members reportedly blamed the patients’ injuries on “paranormal activity.”

“It’s just outrageous,” said Stephanie Garcia, the executive director for The Arc of Pueblo, which acts as a legal guardian for nine of the residents at Pueblo Regional Center, CBS reported.

“It makes my skin crawl,” Ms. Garcia told the station. “It was just unbelievable that in this day and age that people would treat other human beings in this way.”

Eight employees were terminated and eight others were disciplined following an investigation of the CMS report by Colorado’s Department of Human Services and the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office.

The Department of Human Services released a statement saying it would “continue to improve staff training in a number of areas, including the use of restraints, and one-on-one supervision of clients who require that level of care.”

“In addition, the state plans to hire an independent monitor in the coming weeks to oversee implementation of the plan while improvements, including decreasing staff turnover, are put in place,” the Department of Human Services said. “The independent monitor will assist with continued reforms and support the team in implementation of best practices.”

Federal investigators recommended that Colorado repay millions of dollars in Medicaid funding that supported the center during the time of the alleged abuse, which mainly occurred before November but as recently as April, CBS reported.

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