Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Social Services’ Category

State worker sexually abused vulnerable patient at Shoreline facility

by Matt Rosenberg September 16th, 2011

With his signature on a state health department disciplinary document, a former nursing assistant at a group home operated in Shoreline by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services admitted he sexually abused a developmentally-delayed 57-year-old female patient in his care, and agreed to surrender his license for 10 years for unprofessional conduct.

According to the “Stipulated Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Agreed Order” that he recently signed, Bart Finkbiner, of Shoreline, from about November 2009 until late January 2010 “sexually abused Patient A on multiple occasions” without consent, including vaginal and anal intercourse, and forcing her to perform oral sex on him. The order states that a strong administrative penalty is justified because of the vulnerability of the victim and because the sexual contact was non-consensual.

According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, Finkbiner worked at Densmore House in Shoreline. The address was 18814 Densmore Ave. N., according to a police report. The site was operated by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, which also employed Finkbiner. The Agreed Order describes it as “a semi-private, residential living environment for developmentally-delayed and/or mentally ill individuals.” DSHS records appear to indicate it is no longer in operation.

DSHS in December 2010 issued a finding against Finkbiner of abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, and an agency spokesperson said he resigned effective June 25, 2011. In a related but separate proceeding, the Washington State Department of Health – which oversees health care workers – filed administrative charges of unprofessional conduct against Finkbiner in early August of 2011, leading to the Agreed Order signed by Finkbiner and dated August 30, in which he surrendered his nursing assistant license for 10 years. The health department posted the document online and announced the action against Finkbiner on Sept. 13.

According to Deputy Chief of Staff Ian Goodhew, the King County Prosecutor’s Office is still reviewing the case but it may be difficult to charge and try Finkbiner for rape because his signed agreed order with the health department, technically termed “an adopted admission,” is by itself not enough to support a legal claim of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and in addition the developmentally-delayed victim, who reported the case to the department, gave inconsistent statements in later interviews about which days sexual contact occurred, and which acts on which days. No other witnesses were located, Goodhew added.

In response to a reporter’s message left at his Shoreline residence, Finkbiner left a message that he was “very depressed” about the case, that he “didn’t want this to be drawn out” and that he does “not want to work with this population” any more – a reference to developmentally challenged and/or mentally ill individuals.

Finkbiner’s year of birth is listed as 1955 in state records online.

UPDATE, 10:36 a.m.: In a phone interview this morning, Finkbiner denied committing the acts described in the health department Agreed Order he signed. He added that he signed the document because he could not afford an attorney and did not want co-workers to have to be involved in an attempt by him to contest the charges at the health department level. Finkbiner declined to answer further questions.

OTHER RECENT CASES WE’VE REPORTED:

Everett-based counselor loses license for sex with patient

Foreign lottery fixation leads to license revocation for Yakima optometrist

State: nurse at Auburn facility took patients’ opiates, worked under influence

State: patient abandoned by home nursing aide, found on floor

Federal Way hospital nurse charged with rape of patient

Matt Rosenberg is founder and editor of Public Data Ferret, a project of the non-profit Public Eye Northwest.


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In Burien case, Supreme Court eases burden of proof for childcare license revocation

by Melissa Steffan July 12th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a ruling last week involving license revocation of a former Burien, Wash. in-home childcare provider whose son and management were thought to pose a risk to children, the Washington Supreme Court found that the burden of proof is lower than for revocation of other professional licenses. In Kathleen Hardee v. State of Washington Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS), the Court ruled that DSHS must only prove its decision to revoke a childcare license was based on “a preponderance of the evidence.” This standard satisfies constitutional due process, the Court ruled. Hardee, the petitioner in the case, argued that DSHS should bear the burden of proof based on “clear and convincing evidence,” a higher legal standard as set out by the Court’s ruling in a previous decision, Ongom v. Department of Health (2006). In handing down this opinion, however, the Court overruled its previous decision in Ongom.

BACKGROUND: According to the ruling, Kathleen Hardee operated a home childcare facility for more than 20 years. At the time of the initial license revocation it was located in a home on Marine View Drive in Burien, Wash., according to p. “Initial Order – 2″ of this court document. Public records list Hardee as still residing at that address. DSHS became concerned with the presence of Hardee’s teenage son in the house after he was convicted of harassment and fourth degree assault. The concern was not pursued because Hardee’s son moved out of the house, though he returned in 2003 under the conditions of a safety plan. Hardee’s childcare license was revoked in 2006 after Hardee’s son was charged with sexual assault and molestation of a child, who did not attend Hardee’s daycare.

Hardee petitioned the initial revocation of her license in 2006. Though an administrative law judge originally reinstated her license, a review judge, the superior court, and the Court of Appeals all affirmed the DSHS decision to revoke Hardee’s license. In 2010, Hardee appealed her case to the State of Washington Supreme Court.

KEY LINK: Kathleen Hardee v. State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services, State of Washington Supreme Court, July 7

KEY FINDINGS:

  • In Hardee v. DSHS, the State of Washington Supreme Court ruled that DSHS must justify its decision to revoke a home childcare license through only a majority of the evidence presented at a hearing.
  • In terms of legal burden of proof, this “preponderance of the evidence” standard is lower than “clear and convincing evidence.” According to the Court’s decision, Hardee’s defense argued that constitutional due process requires the higher standard.
  • According to the Supreme Court’s opinion, DSHS presented findings against Hardee that proved she knowingly violated the terms of her home childcare license. Continued investigation after the 2006 charges against Hardee’s son revealed Hardee also failed to report and complete mandatory background checks for other people living in her home and had even continued to provide in-home childcare after her license was revoked. One review judge even “concluded that Hardee lacked the personal characteristics necessary to provide child care.”
  • The Supreme Court stated that DSHS evidence proving Hardee violated the 2003 safety agreement, including parent testimonies affirming Hardee’s son’s unsupervised access to children, was substantial enough to satisfy the burden of proof. The Court also affirmed the review judge’s opinion that Hardee was unfit to provide childcare, based upon her actions with her son and other individuals in her home. This evidence was enough to satisfy the “preponderance of evidence” standard, the Court ruled.
  • The DSHS statute governing Hardee’s hearing “provides that, at an administrative hearing, the administrative law judge shall uphold the Department’s decision to revoke a home child care license if a preponderance of the evidence supports the decision” (RCW 43.215.300(2)). However, at her administrative hearing, Hardee challenged this statute and asked that a “clear and convincing evidence” burden of proof be placed upon the Department.
  • Hardee challenged the statute on the basis of two previous rulings, Bang D. Nguyen v. Dep’t of Health Med. Quality Assurance Comm’n and Ongom v. Department of Health. However, the Court distinguished Hardee from Ngyuen; in that case, the revoked license was that of a medical professional, not a home childcare provider.
  • In Ongom, the Court ruled that due process required clear and substantial evidence to justify revoking a nursing assistant’s license. In Hardee, however, the Supreme Court overruled Ongom, calling the previous ruling “both incorrect and harmful.” The Ongom ruling was overturned because its standard would have required DSHS “to satisfy a quasicriminal standard of proof before revoking its endorsement of a child care facility – even when a preponderance of the evidence indicates that the children in the facility were exposed to potential sexual abuse,” according to the Court’s opinion.
  • HHS report: Half the antipsychotic drug claims paid by Medicare for elderly nursing home residents unwarranted

    by Melissa Steffan June 16th, 2011

    SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General recently released a report revealing that some senior patients in nursing homes are being overmedicated with atypical, or tranquilizing, antipsychotic drugs administered outside the approved Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations. The investigation also reveals the Medicare costs of antipsychotic drugs administered to elderly nursing home residents; the cost of these erroneous prescriptions totaled $116 million over a six-month period.

    June 10 screening accents video storytelling, healthy communities

    by Matt Rosenberg June 1st, 2011

    Get an in-person look 6 p.m. June 10th in the Chinatown Community Center at grassroots videos by South Seattle residents on nutrition and health, which are featured in an innovative digital storytelling public health campaign that will utilize online mapping and collaboration with Seattle neighborhood groups. The videos feature stakeholders from The International District, Georgetown, West Seattle, White Center, South Park, and other South Seattle neighborhoods telling their own stories about starting community gardens, finding youth sports programs for low-income families, green space and exercise, smoking and other prevention and health topics. The June 10 screening coincides with an open house at the center, and refreshments will be provided. There will be Q & A with the video producers and organizers welcome suggestions from attendees on how and where to use the videos in their community outreach effort. Some of the videos are already posted to an interim Vimeo channel and in October 2011 will be available via an online map at the Mapping Our Voices for Equality (MOVE) web page. (It currently re-directs to the interim Vimeo channel).

    MOVE is a digital media and health initiative staffed by several Seattle-area non-profits with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Public Health Seattle and King County. It’s part of a program in King County and 54 other locales nationwide called Communities Putting Prevention To Work, designed by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control, and aimed at obesity and tobacco use among low-income and minority populations. Following are several of the videos.

    Gig Harbor Bans Roadside Panhandling

    by Matt Rosenberg May 24th, 2011

    SUMMARY: The Gig Harbor City Council last night approved an ordinance making it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail for panhandlers to solicit drivers on public roadways. City officials believe there’s a safety hazard posed by the presence of panhandlers and their signage alongside freeway exit ramps and when they approach or interact with drivers or passengers. Several community-based non-profit organizations in Pierce County and Gig Harbor area minister to the needs of the homeless and hungry.

    U.S. Report: Seattle Can Model Next Steps Against Trafficking

    by Matt Rosenberg April 15th, 2011

    SUMMARY: A recently released report by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. posits that Seattle and Western Washington partners in the battle against human trafficking would be well-suited to demonstrate new methods of information-sharing and innovative networked surveillance tools to combat the problem, which includes forced prostitution of domestic minors, and forced labor and domestic servitude of foreign nationals in the U.S., often at the behest of organized crime networks. To combat human trafficking, the report details recommendations for a multi-city high-tech West Coast vehicle surveillance network in known street prostitution corridors; a new, secure Web-based human trafficking data portal for law enforcement agencies; better standardization and sharing of information among myriad agencies involved; and better utilization of data from visa applications to identify potential victims of forced labor. It also proposes how to capture for law enforcement the valuable lessons learned by the U.S. intelligence community on the operations and tactics of far-reaching global networks involved in human trafficking, narcotics, weapons and terrorism; and accents the need for more shelter facilities in Seattle and Western Washington specifically for adult women victims of human trafficking.

    King County Researchers Report Maternal Health Risk Disparities For Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders

    by Matt Rosenberg March 7th, 2011

    SUMMARY: According to a report recently published in a journal of the U.S. Centers For Disease Control, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in King County, Wash. have significantly higher rates of maternal obesity, smoking during pregnancy, adolescent mothers and little or no prenatal care, compared to Asians in King County. The authors of the report, from Public Health – Seattle & King County, state the findings accent the continued need to report health data for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders separate from Asians, in order to identify and quantify important concerns.

    BACKGROUND: Changed federal health reporting standards in 1997 replaced the category “Äsian or Pacific Islander” with two distinct categories, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander or NHPI. For the recent report published in a journal of the federal Centers For Disease Control, researchers at Public Health – Seattle & King County compared key maternal, pregnancy and birth health indicators for Native Hawaiians versus Asians in King County from 2003 through 2008, excluding multiracial subjects who identified themselves with both categories.

    KEY LINK: “Maternal, Pregnancy and Birth Characteristics of Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders – King County, Washington, 2003-2008,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Centers For Disease Control, February 25, 2011. Authors: E. Wong, PhD; and D. Solet, PhD; Public Health – Seattle & King County, Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit.

    KEY FINDINGS:

    • Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in King County had significantly higher rates than Asians of maternal obesity, smoking during pregnancy, adolescent mothers, high birth weight and late or no prenatal care. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander mothers in King County also had higher rates than their Asian counterparts of being overweight and of giving birth birth prematurely.
    • The findings will help identify important health concerns for the NHPI community in King County, and underscore the continued need to measure and report public health outcomes for NHPI population separate from those of Asians.
    • Important health disparities exist for Native Hawaiians in other areas including deaths, adverse health outcomes and behaviors which increase health risks such as smoking and unhealthy weight. These data are of “high interest” but not within the scope of the current study.
    • Future research should seek to refine the results of the current report, in part by looking at year-by-year data to identify trends and also by examining comparable data for mixed race (Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) subjects so disparities can be better described and responsive programs better designed.

    Fr. Maternal, Pregnancy, and Birth Characteristics of Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders - King County, Washington, 2003-2008

    RELATED: “Health of Native Hawaiians And Other Pacific Islanders In King County,” Public Health – Seattle & King County, August 2008. (Includes community resources).