We, the management team of Gracewood State School and Hospital, appreciate that The Chronicle reporter came to Gracewood and spoke to us before writing his Aug. 11 article regarding Gracewood. We are concerned, however, about the headline and some of the description about specific incidents. We would like to inform the public of the following:
Gracewood has served with distintion persons of all ages with mental retardation for over 76 years. Over 85 percent of our clients are severely and profoundly retarded with personal skills disabilities and emotional/behavioral needs.
We take issue with the term "beatings." A client with aggressive behavior struck out at other clients in the family group. There was no injury to any clients. These behaviors are continuously addressed in formal training programs.
We take any allegations of incidents concerning the care and safety of our clients to be extremely serious.
Gracewood has clear procedures which provide protections to clients. We have a full-time client advocate whose duties include the investigation of any client-related incidents. We also have security 24 hours a day. The Gracewood Human Rights Committee, composed of family members and community representatives, serves as an oversight committee. Among their duties are to review client programs as well as any incidents involving clients. Staff who work with clients are specially trained to address their needs and are assigned to client groups every shift.
The client's family members are intimately involved in the daily lives of our clients. They may visit whenever they wish. They also participate with the team that provides care and training to the client. The family council meets regularly to discuss issues with the superintendent.
Gracewood is subject to unannounced surveys by local, state and federal regulatory agencies and other national accrediting organizations. We welcome internal and external surveys.
The management team takes great pride in the services provided at Gracewood and strives to make it a facility of excellence and openness, serving our clients with care and compassion to meet their needs.
Joanne P. Miklas, Ph.D., Augusta
(Editor's note: This was also signed by five other members of the Gracewood management.)