Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ADAPT Meets With Success

The power of organizing people to confront a system that is not working for the very people it is in place to serve was experienced again today by members of ADAPT of Tennessee. Twelve individuals of west Tennessee took over the lobby of the Aging Commission of the Mid-South. ADAPT was upset by the inappropriate treatment people with disabilities faced while attempting to move out of nursing facilities and back into their own homes.

“They were supposed to be there to help me, but the Aging Commission showed me no respect and ignored me and denied me services,” said Glenn Bailey. Glenn now lives in his own apartment.

“If it wasn’t for the Memphis Center for Independent Living getting TennCare officials to step in, the Aging Commission would have prevented me from living where I want too," explains Mr. Bailey. "They had decided that I could not live on my own, but they never asked me what I could do. When they finally got around to asking me, they didn't believe me! They said I could not transfer on my own; hell, I can stand up and transfer easily. Everything they did was an attempt to keep me in the nursing home," Mr. Bailey continued.

“Mr. Bailey is not the only one we have seen face these issues when attempting to receive the Statewide Waiver,” said Randy Alexander an ADAPT Organizer. “Whether it is lack of understanding that’s creating paternalistic attitudes or straightforward discriminatory attitudes at the Aging Commission of the Mid-South the end result for people with disabilities is the same. Segregation.”

After filling the lobby ADAPTers dug in and held fast to the demands that the administration of the Commission supply them with a contact list of the board of directors, including the appointing authority of each board member; that they have a board meeting so representatives of ADAPT can address the issues with the board within 15 days; that Commission provide copies of all procedures internal, external and otherwise concerning the Statewide Waiver; that they agree to an independent review of all calls and applications that have not led to approval for the Statewide Waiver over the previous two years; and that they provide a written a letter of apology from Dr. Kathleen Spears and her staff to Mr. Bailey for their ableist agenda and unwillingness to provide him assistance in moving out of the nursing home.

Five hours later ADAPTers emerged having received a contact of Board Members, a letter from the Board Chair of the Aging Commission of the Mid-South, Jeff Huffman, committing to a Board meeting. ADAPT also confirmed being on the Board meeting agenda during discussions with Board Member Sybille Noble. Ms. Noble arrived at the Aging Commission and facilitated ADAPT receiving the policies and procedures, listened to issues raised about the application process and has a commitment to work with us to look into issues in applying for the Statewide Waiver.

Although Kathleen Spears, the Director of the Aging Commission of the Mid-South, would not write a letter of apology to Mr. Bailey he finally has a copy of his personal file he requested in writing more then two months ago.

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