Rebecca Underwood’s son Aaron has lived at Central Wisconsin Center, one of the state’s centers for the developmentally disabled, for more than 30 years. She says the care the center provides its patients and their families “turns their lives around.” Photo Feb. 25, 2015, in Madison.

Wisconsin cuts back on long-term institutional care for the disabled

It’s part of a national trend. But parents and guardians of patients at Central Wisconsin Center, one of the state’s facilities for the developmentally disabled, are worried that the state’s no-new-admissions policy could endanger people who could benefit from the centers’ services. Now a couple have gone to court to keep their child at the center.

State spending now an open book

Critics were quick to carp that OpenBook Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker’s new website tracking state spending, was delayed for a year and is still not fully functional. One Democratic lawmaker said “it’s had more problems than the Obamacare website.”

Charles Pietrowski’s mother, Mary, fell and broke her hip at Sunrise Care Center in Milwaukee in January 2010. The nursing home did not report the incident to the Wisconsin health department, as required by law, and the state did not investigate the injury for more than seven months, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism found. The state later determined that Pietrowski fell due to negligence.

Wisconsin nursing homes fail to report deaths, injuries

Attorneys for families of residents say that facilities’ failure to report serious injuries or deaths related to abuse or neglect is not uncommon. Far more often, they say, the state health department only learns about a case of alleged neglect or abuse after a family member files a complaint. Advocates for health care providers stress that incidents of neglect and abuse are extremely rare, and can come to regulators’ attention in a variety of ways.

A Wisconsin tort reform law passed two years ago made state inspection reports of nursing homes and other health care facilities inadmissible as evidence in civil and criminal cases. Proponents of the law say it lets providers discuss problems more openly, but critics argue it puts the elderly and vulnerable at risk. This woman, whose family asked that she not be identified, was a resident at a Sauk City nursing home.

Center’s inquiries prompt state policy changes

In response to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s inquiries into an accident involving a 88-year-old woman at a Milwaukee nursing home, the state Department of Health Services launched an internal review, which concluded that state officials did not properly respond. As a result, the department says it has reviewed its intake procedures and made changes to ensure that complaints against nursing homes are triaged appropriately and investigated in a timely fashion.

A Wisconsin tort reform law passed two years ago made state inspection reports of nursing homes and other health care facilities inadmissible as evidence in civil and criminal cases. Proponents of the law say it lets providers discuss problems more openly, but critics argue it puts the elderly and vulnerable at risk. This woman, whose family asked that she not be identified, was a resident at a Sauk City nursing home.

New state law conceals records of abuse, neglect in nursing homes

A new Wisconsin law, which went into effect in February 2011, bars families from using state health investigation records in state civil suits filed against long-term providers, including nursing homes and hospices. It also makes such records inadmissible in criminal cases against health care providers accused of neglecting or abusing patients.