Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Institution Agrees To Changes Following Matthew Goodman Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 7, 2005

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY--The New Jersey institution where 14-year-old Matthew Goodman was restrained before his February 2002 death has agreed to make staff improvements and other changes in a settlement with the state Child Advocate's Office.

According to Thursday's Star-Ledger, the Child's Advocate Office reviewed 150,000 pages of records from 50 allegations of abuse or neglect at Bancroft Neurohealth Inc., of Haddonfield. Investigators cited inadequate staffing levels, a lack of proper supervision, poor medical care, and an inability to properly conduct internal investigations.

Bancroft has agreed to raise staffing levels; randomly monitor employee behaviors; improve internal abuse and neglect investigations; improve medical care; and video record staff-to-resident interactions where allowed by parents. The Child's Advocate Office will hire an independent expert to monitor the changes for at least six month.

Assemblyman Eric Munoz said the agreement did not go far enough. He called for the state to withhold $125,000 in state aid set to go to Bancroft this year.

"The state should not continue to subsidize neglectful and substandard care," said Munoz, who is a medical doctor.

In the fall of 2002, Munoz sponsored "Matthew's Law", a proposal to limit the use of physical restraints. The measure was named after Goodman, who had autism and was a resident at The Lindens, an institution for 60 youths with developmental disabilities run by Bancroft. Goodman died of aspiration pneumonia, acute respiratory distress and a blood infection.

Goodman's mother, Janice Roach, claimed that the excessive use of restraints and heavy medication at Lindens weakened her son's immune system. She pointed to evidence that Matthew was placed in restraints for hours at a time -- sometimes overnight -- along with a medical report that showed the teen lost 23 pounds in the final six days of his life.

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