Recent posts from our blog!

Richmond man did not receive reasonable accommodate in eldercare housing
CentralMaine.com reports in "Richmond Eldercare home faulted by human rights panel" that the Maine Human Rights Commission voted in August that James Nichols of Biddeford was discriminated against when he was discharged from Richmond Eldercare Coalition housing instead of provided an accommodation to his disability.

According to the newspaper report, Nichols, who has PTSD and other disabilities and is a recovering alcoholic
was moved involuntarily to a different room at the home after living there a month, and the change triggered his post-traumatic stress disorder since the new roommate could drink alcohol and kept open containers of urine in the room. 
The report says Nichols told Gibbs the new living situation was “going badly” and he later told others he felt unsafe.
After a hospitalization, Nichols needed to be in a different room or with a different roommate. Other residents were not asked if they were willing to room with him. Instead, Nichols returned to the hospital for several weeks.


Smithfield, Oct 24, Therapeutic Horsemanship Exhibit for Veterans

by Sharon Wachsler

Today I came across a story in CentralMaine.com that I think is an exciting opportunity for veterans or anyone with a disability or chronic health condition in the Farmington area who enjoys animals, especially horses. The article is entitled, Maine AgrAbility to sponsor therapeutic-horsemanship demonstration for veterans Oct. 24. Having benefited from horse-assisted therapy, myself, I am excited to pass along this posting and hope those who read it will share it.

The AgrAbility Project is a national organization sponsored by the USDA that, according to its website, seeks to
enhance quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities. While the term "disability" often brings to mind conditions such as spinal cord injuries and amputations, AgrAbility addresses not only these but also many other conditions, such as arthritis, back impairments, and behavioral health issues.
The demonstration will take place at Thistle Ridge Equestrian Centre, 1289 Village Road, Smithfield from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24. The presenter for the demo is Charmaine Bouford, certified rehabilitation counselor for SpiritHorse Therapeutic Center and a registered therapeutic riding instructor.

The presentation is free to veterans. Non-veterans are asked to donate $20 in support of Thistle Ridge programs. For more information on the therapeutic horsemanship exhibition or to request a disability accommodation, contact Lani Carlson at UMaine Cooperative Extension at 207.944.1533 or 800.287.1471.

UMaine Cooperative Extension partners with Maine AgrAbility to work with farmers, farm workers and farm family members with a chronic health condition or disability.

Disability Rights Center facing criticism for not protecting abused Riverview patient

Riverview Psychiatric Center is in the news again. This time the woman assaulted there was a patient, not a staffer.

An October 8, Portland Press Herald story blames Maine's Disability Rights Center for not taking faster and more decisive action when a Riverview patient was abused by staff:
The Disability Rights Center’s failure to immediately notify Adult Protective Services let down the abuse victim, critics said. 
“To just not report it because they could not urge others to do so is unacceptable,” said Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. “This report should have been made within 48 hours.” 
On Dec. 2, a corrections officer pepper-sprayed a nude patient who was in her room and not threatening employees, and then restrained her for hours afterward. The incident was kept secret until a former Riverview nurse reported the abuse to Adult Protective Services in late February. The state immediately investigated and concluded that abuse had occurred. One Riverview employee was fired as a result of the incident, and a contract worker was no longer allowed on Riverview grounds.
The article quotes Helen Bailey, a lawyer at DRC, saying they were working to try to get the hospital to take action on the patient's behalf so that hospital administrators would learn better how to handle such issues. 
Bailey said it is counterproductive for her group to report abuse when it is the hospital’s legal duty to do so. 
“If we do it for (Riverview), then they don’t learn how to do it themselves,” Bailey said. “They don’t get the point that these events are abuse if we do it for them.”
Read the complete article:  Patient advocacy group slow to report abuse case at Maine’s Riverview Hospital

Texas Governor's Race Pits One Wheelchair Image Against Another

Wendy Davis is the Democrat running for governor of Texas. She's a nondisabled woman running against Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican man who uses a wheelchair. This race has been chock full of politics-as-usual and politics-as-unusual where both candidates are trying to figure out how best to use or ignore Abbott's physical disability.

Bloomberg Politics posted an article today entitled, "Everybody Hates the New Wendy Davis Ad. That doesn't mean it's a failure." It includes the ad as well as ads from the Abbott camp that focus on his disability.

Abbott has put his disability front and center in several of his ads during this race.

Davis at first tried to avoid mention of Abbott's disability, especially when lambasted for using the campaign slogan, "Stand with Wendy." Now Davis is making use Abbott's disability to point out that just because he understands what it's like to be victimized due to disability and circumstance does not necessarily mean he supports others in this situation.

There are a slew of articles on this topic! If you just can't enough of it, here are a few links:

Washington Times: Wendy Davis Defends Greg Abbott 'Wheelchair Ad'

Time Magazine: Wendy Davis Wins the Prize for Most Ill-Advised Political Ad of 2014

Fox News: Wendy Davis defends 'wheelchair' ad criticizing paralyzed opponent

The Fox article includes information about what Davis said in the face of this criticism:
The Democratic nominee, who was flanked by disability rights activists -- including two people in wheelchairs -- at a Fort Worth news conference, claimed the ad was designed to portray Abbott as someone who worked against the disabled. 
Asked by a reporter if the ad exploits Abbott’s disability, Davis said, “This ad is about one thing. And one thing only. It’s about Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy.”
View Davis's ad, as well as Abbott's ads that feature his disability, in the Bloomberg article.

High Rates of Disability Among Recent Veterans

An article entitled, "Government disability payments skyrocketing despite fewer veterans" appeared in the Washington Times in August.

Representative Michael Michaud, a Maine Democrat candidate for governor and ranking member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committed, was mentioned in the article. The article indicated Michaud "requested the CBO report to examine how to minimize the skyrocketing costs of disability payments, according to a committee staffer."

Veterans from recent wars have higher rates of disabilities than previous wars' disabled veterans. Reasons for high rates of disabilities among veterans include multiple deployments, high rates of mental illness, the older age of reservists called to active duty, and injuries from environmental dangers, such as burn pits.

Back in the Maine Stream: Taking Disabled Vets Fishing

Are you a disabled veteran in Maine who likes fishing? You have company!

In July, the Portland Press Herald ran an interview with Marc Bilodeau and Bob Pelletier, the leaders of Back in the Maine Stream, an outdoor support group for disabled veterans. Bilodeau and Pelletier are themselves disabled veterans who like to fish. The group provides peer support to veterans who have returned home to Maine:
Both men love to fish. This year alone, they have organized 12 donated fishing trips to their group of Maine veterans, which now numbers 50. The group’s mission statement promises they will “improve the participant’s physical, social and emotional well being through fishing activities and outings. We believe veterans helping veterans improves all of our abilities, physical and emotional.”
Studies show that any time outdoors improves mental health. The comments of the vets leading this initiative seem to show that this is the case with their fishing expeditions, too:

What’s most striking about the work you do with other disabled veterans?
MARC: It’s interesting the difference you see on these fishing trips. People come in and you see their attitude change. They will come in grumpy and leave happy. Something happens. 
BOB: You’ve got guys with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, with brain injuries, guys who are visually impaired. We get them fishing and none of that pertains.
We had one gal join us, I won’t use her name. She is one tough cookie. No one goes near her. She came up to me after one trip and said, ‘Get your camera ready.’ Then she came up and gave me a hug.
Back in the Maine Stream has a website with pictures of trips, upcoming activities, and other resources of interest to disabled veterans in Maine.