NAMPA — As the investigation into one of Idaho's longest standing care facilities unfolds, now the joint legislative oversight committee says it's becoming more apparent that improvements are not happening fast enough, this as the facility is facing multiple lawsuits from employees and family members of former clients.
The Southwest Idaho Treatment Facility has been in operation since the early 1900s, and as of now, it's an item on Governor Little's fix-it list, after a report reveals it's discrepancies over nearly ten years.
It's a facility responsible for taking care of people with intellectual disabilities, and their shortfalls started surfacing in 2017 when six employees left the facility after findings of abuse and neglect; one client committed suicide and the death of a well-respected nurse.
"When we talk about organizational trauma, you essentially have people who care deeply for their clients inside the facility, but they do not have the resources to serve them effectively, which makes them afraid to try new things, it makes them afraid for their own safety, and it leads to very high turnover, neglect or abuse," said Rep. Mat Erpelding, House Minority Leader.
Erpelding stated the problems are the result of the legislature and the Department of Health and Welfare's inability to have a coherent plan for the transition from a long term care facility to a short term treatment facility for this vulnerable population.
Erpelding said at this point, it is the Department of Health and Welfare and the new governor's responsibility to come up with a plan that will work for this population.
The Department of Health and Welfare stated that the work environment at SWITC is unacceptable, and Governor Little supports a recommendation for them to work with other stakeholders to develop a long term vision for crisis care in Idaho.
We'll keep you updated on the status of those lawsuits we mentioned as they unfold.