Today we are releasing a report, The License to Mismanage: Investigating Utah’s Troubled Long Term Care System, that explores the State’s oversight of long-term care facilities with a focus on the tragic death of Chien Nguyen, an individual with a long history of mental illness. Chien was 48 years old, and, unfortunately, a lack of oversight by the State in two facilities, Evergreen Place and Hidden Hollow Care Center, failed him and his family.
“It seemed that nothing happened when [Chien was] killed,” said Nick Nguyen, Chien’s brother. “I am still angry with people [who] don’t care my brother died. I am still crying now.”
The report details Chien’s experience in Evergreen Place, which was eventually shut down by the Salt Lake County Health Department for its deplorable conditions, and his eventual transfer to Hidden Hollow Care Center, a facility placement that may not have been consistent with his primary diagnosis. In addition, the report looks at how Chien’s experience is a far too familiar for many Utahns with disabilities.
“Chien Nguyen’s death is just one example of the deficient oversight of Utah’s long term care system. As the protection and advocacy agency for the state of Utah, the Disability Law Center has repeatedly seen Licensing and other state agencies ineffectively protect individuals with disabilities in long term care facilities. State regulators seem to operate in a culture of protecting businesses rather than protecting people from harm when they levy insubstantial fines and prioritize keeping troubled facilities open. This practice is not only dangerous for the individuals served in these facilities, but also threatens federal funding allocated to the state for oversight of these services.” – Excerpt from The License to Mismanage: Investigating Utah’s Troubled Long Term Care System
While we were pleased to see that State Attorneys General from the Medicaid Fraud and Control Unit brought charges against individuals from both facilities, Utah must be proactive in its efforts to prevent harms like this from ever occurring again and take steps to provide appropriate oversight. We urge State Officials to do better, and we encourage you to join this call.