November 25, 2008
222 South Warren Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
Inquiry into death of woman who lived in DDD funded home
TRENTON – Inquiries are being made into the death of a 28-year-old woman with severe developmental disabilities and a complicated medical history who was a client in a Hunterdon County community care residence that was funded by the department's Division of Developmental Disabilities. The death, which occurred on November 10th, is under investigation by the department as well as the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office.
Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today issued the following statement regarding the facts surrounding the case:
“Our sincerest condolences are with the family during this difficult time. This death is unacceptable on many levels, and we're doing all we can to scrutinize every aspect and prevent tragedies such as this from occurring again. Our department is cooperating fully with the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office in its investigation. In addition, our internal Special Response Unit and the Division of Developmental Disabilities are conducting concurrent investigations.”
“Pending the outcome of these investigations, the case manager has been suspended and our Human Resources Employee Relations office is examining any additional personnel-related actions. Further, all of the Division of Developmental Disabilities clients who are living in community care residences - some 1,255 statewide - are being re-visited by staff with supervisory support to confirm and ensure their well being.”
“This death remains an on-going investigation and we are awaiting the Prosecutor's final determination. Whatever the outcome, DHS will take any and all necessary action in accordance with the Prosecutor's conclusions.”
At this time, the department is unable to provide further information because of the ongoing investigations. Personal information regarding individuals receiving services from DHS is protected by state privacy law and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).