DDS fights suit over medical records held by mom as they look to privatize her son’s care

NEW HAVEN - Not everyone agrees with a move that could save the state more than $100 million over two years.

In August, it was announced that the state would lay off hundreds of Department of Developmental Services workers, as part of the privatization of 40 group homes, as a way to save approximately $100 million over two years.

One woman who continues to fight that move was summoned to New Haven Probate Court on Monday.

"Is this about love or is it about money?" asked Lindsay Matthews, whose 51 year old son, George Griffin, has been a resident of a state-run group home for many years that is now being run by a non-profit.

"My son is being taken care of by state workers only," she said, so she has refused the Department of Developmental Services request to obtain guardianship of her son's medical records.

"Does it make sense to replace these professionals with people who have nothing but a high school diploma, who have less qualification than a cosmetologist or a dog trainer?" she asked.

Among the attendees at the hearing: one of George Griffin's aides, Delores Foreman, who said Griffin "fell in love with me in the beginning. So, I have been with him. And you know we've been inseparable."

While she has cared for Griffin, at the Brook Street home, for over 15 years, she said she won't be able to afford to stay, following this privatization deal.

"I know I can't right now. No. It would be a hardship for me," she said.

"It's pretty hard when you have a mortgage to pay or you've just purchased a car and you're making $22 an hour, which is the cost of living in Connecticut, and someone says 'would you like to take a job for $11.50,'" Matthews said.

If the courts rule in favor of the state, things could get more unsettled for Griffin.

"Then they can take steps to try to get him out of the home that he's been in for 20 years," said his mother.

"It is nice to balance the budget, but why have the monies been mismanaged?" Foreman asked.

The hearing on medical records was continued to next Tuesday, Oct. 11.

In a statement released this Monday afternoon, DDS Spokesperson Nicole Cadovius wrote:

"The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) provides funding for supports and services to 16,724 individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout Connecticut. Less than six percent receive services from public run programs. 94% receive a range of programs from qualified community-based providers who have created opportunities for individuals to participate in residential, employment, recreational, and social opportunities in their communities.

As many other states have done, we will continue to transition residential state-run services, to community-based private providers. In a budget environment that requires we provide critical services more efficiently, DDS is committed to maintaining current levels of essential services with the highest quality of care.

While we know these changes are extremely difficult for individuals, families, and staff, they are necessary for us to maintain critical supports. DDS is focused on carrying out these transitions in the most effective and compassionate manner possible. We are obligated to maintain privacy, today’s guardianship matter is a confidential legal process.”