I am a 65 year old adult with a couple of medical problems that leave me homebound. I have several good friends that help me with shopping, transportation when I need to go to the doctor, and I have a very good Home Health Care Nurse.
On Wednesday, March 12, my privacy was invaded by Alan Stie, from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Adult Protective Services (APS), saying someone filed an complaint indicating I was in danger. He harassed me for 30 minutes to an hour, with a large number of questions, forcing me to prove that I was oriented times three (a medical term indicating I know who I am, where I am, what time it is, and that I completely understand my situation). I convinced him I was not in danger, and yet he refused to say who filed the complaint. I started calling around, and found that there was a high probability that it was filed by a social worker who was trying to hurt one of my care givers who was doing a very good job, but who the social worker did not like.
Alan’s boss was out of town, in training, so I called his boss, but he would not help either. I did some online research, and determined the full chain of command in the agency, and have worked my way up the chain, each time hoping to find a bureaucrat that would realize an injustice was done, but never finding one.
They all fall back on "we must protect the identity of someone that files a complaint" but there are two problems with that. One is I know for a fact that my neighbor reported her cousin, who checked himself out of a nursing home, and who was not taking his medication, and the APS agent that went to see him had no problem telling the cousin that it was my neighbor that triggered his visit. The other is that I looked up the law that DHS said forced them to keep the information confidential, 43A O.S. § 10-110, and section B.5 provides they can tell a family member, and I told each person up the chain of command that they could make me stop by just telling my brother, who is my next-of-kin, and they refused.
Last week I blogged about it (http://snipurl.com/22dmr), and this week I am not only blogging about it again (http://snipurl.com/22xgf), but I am also asking 30 other bloggers to consider covering it, and I am reaching out to 16 people in the media, to see if they would report on it, and I am filing a complaint with four national agencies. Will that help? I don’t know. But I am hoping that the more publicity I can stir up, the less likely the DHS will be to go after some other vulnerable adult that does not want them bothering them.
I am not personally in jeapordy (I have too many good friends and family loooking out for me that the state is not going to do anything to me), and the only reason I am pushing it this far is if they would abuse the power of the state with me, what would keep them from doing it to someone else that does not have my knowledge and contacts to protect them.
I am sure the Department of Human Services does good work, both in the Child Protective Services and the Adult Protective Services areas. But we have all seen on TV cases where an overly aggressive CPS agent removes children crying and wanting to stay with their parents, and puts them in "The System", and we have all seen cases where "The System" places children with abusive Foster Parents, and the responsible CPS agent is too overworked or too lazy to properly monitor them, and they are hurt or killed. Knowing this, imagine how you would feel if your health deteriorated to the point where you were a vulnerable adult, and an Adult Protective Services started asking you a bunch of invasive and degrading questions, keading yu to fear the power of the state might be used to take you from your own home, and put you in an institution. And then consider what you would think when you learned that the agent invaded your privacy, not because anyone thought you were a danger to yourself or anyone else, but because the person reporting you to DHS was really trying to hurt someone else, who was doing a very good job.