Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Feds Demand ‘Significant Corrections’ At School For Disabled

This aerial photo shows the sprawling campus of Rainier School for the developmentally disabled in Buckley, Washington
Washington DSHS
This aerial photo shows the sprawling campus of Rainier School for the developmentally disabled in Buckley, Washington

Washington’s Western State Hospital isn’t the only state institution under federal scrutiny. TheRainier Schoolfor developmentally disabled adults in Washington state was put on notice in April that it needs to make “significant corrections.”

Rainier School sits in the shadow of Mt. Rainier in east Pierce County. It’s not a school in the traditional sense, but the 320 residents there are supposed to receive “active treatment” to help them become more independent.

However, recent federal surveys have found that’s not happening to the extent it should be. As a result, federal regulators have denied Medicaid funding for new residents and put the facility on notice that it needs to step up treatment efforts.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Don Clintsman with Washington State’s Developmental Disabilities Administration is confident Rainier School can achieve a turnaround much like Lakeland Village near Spokane did recently.

“What you really need to do get to compliance in this short time period is ... a lot of coaching and mentoring with employees around what is aggressive active treatment, what does that look like, what should you be doing," Clintsman said.

Already the feds have acknowledged “good faith efforts” to achieve compliance.

However, disability rights advocates are skeptical.

“It’s not that easy” to turn around an institution, said David Carlson of Disability Rights Washington. He noted active treatment has long been a core requirement of so-called intermediate care facilities like Rainier School.

“I just feel like it’s more talk,” Carlson said. “[The state] needs to recognize this takes a lot of resources.”

In January of 2015, Disability Rights Washington wrote a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlining “grave concerns” over conditions at Lakeland Village and accusing the state of “warehousing” residents. Carlson said his organization has similar concerns about the Rainier School.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.