The Senate today passed Jonathan’s Law, a bill cosponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza, that would ensure parents and guardians have access to records pertaining to allegations and investigations of mistreatment of children in residential care facilities. The legislation was introduced after the tragic death in February of 13-year-old Jonathan Carey, an autistic teen who lived at the state-run O.D. Heck Development Center in Niskayuna.
Jonathan’s Law (S.3105-A) does the following:
> ensures that parents or guardians have access to records concerning alleged abuse or investigations of abuse when it concerns their children. Upon written request, records must be released within 21 days of the conclusion of an investigation;
> mandates telephone notification to the parent or guardian of a patient when an incident occurs involving that patient, and upon request, a written incident report must be provided to the parent or guardian;
> directs the Commission on Quality Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQCAPD) to prepare and disseminate a pamphlet on the right to access records relating to patient care and treatment;
> requires the CQCAPD to notify the parents or guardians when there is credible evidence of alleged abuse or mistreatment; and
> establishes a Task Force on Mental Hygiene Records to study and make recommendations on additional legislation regarding access to patient records and reports.
Following the alleged mistreatment of Jonathan Carey at the Anderson School in Staatsburg, New York, where his parents were denied access to records about their son, he was transferred to the state-run O.D. Heck Development Center in Niskayuna. Jonathan died in February while being taken out in a van by two Center staff members who police say used an improper restraint on him. The workers failed to seek medical attention for 90 minutes after the restraint.
Following Jonathan’s death, the State Senate held a public hearing to examine a broad range of issues related to the care of individuals with mental disabilities, including the use of restraints, training in the use of such restraints, and the availability of confidential medical and investigative records to parents and guardians.