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8/10/2008
Representative Lavelle Again Calls For The Resignation Of DHSS Secretary Vince Meconi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2008

Contact: State Representative Greg Lavelle, 302-478-6128

STATE REPRESENTATIVE GREG LAVELLE AGAIN CALLS FOR THE
RESIGNATION OF DHSS SECRETARY VINCE MECONI

For the fourth time in the past year, State Representative Gregory F. Lavelle (R-Sharpley) today called for the resignation of Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Vincent P. Meconi, again citing gross mismanagement at the Delaware Psychiatric Center (DPC).

In light of today's News Journal report in which State Auditor R. Thomas Wagner, Jr. investigated staff allegations that DPC employees were misappropriating patient trust fund accounts at the facility and found there was insufficient documentation for numerous patient purchases, Rep. Lavelle called on Governor Minner to remove Secretary Meconi from his duties, effective immediately. He also indicated that he would contact U.S. Attorney Colm Connolly to investigate whether any criminal behavior occurred with patients' money.

This is the fourth time since last summer that Rep. Lavelle called for Secretary Meconi's resignation.

Rep. Lavelle stated, "Once again, I am appalled at the revelations surrounding the Delaware Psychiatric Center. We are talking about employees allegedly taking advantage, at the very least, of individuals who are among our most vulnerable population – the mentally ill. What will it take before the Governor agrees that Secretary Meconi is grossly incompetent and the patients at the DPC deserve much, much better? We need accountability, and simply changing policies in response to theft, abuse and outright crimes is not leadership in the opinion of most reasonable people."

Rep. Lavelle also said, "I wish I was more confident that the Governor would do the right thing, but, unfortunately, judging from the past, I expect she'll make no changes in leadership at DHSS. Given that, I hope these multiple failures at the DPC will not be forgotten if Secretary Meconi is considered for a cabinet position by our next Governor – whomever that may be."

According to Rep. Lavelle, "I plan to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office to see if there is anything the Federael Government can do to restore some level of public trust and accountability to this institution. The patients and their families, the many good and competent employees of the DPC and the citizens of Delaware deserve better. The answer to these ongoing and repeated cases of abuse and neglect is not a new building."

The Auditor's Office reviewed 2,531 transactions with a total dollar amount of $521,473.37 for 13 patients trust fund accounts. The Auditor's Office "found the following:

  • Receipts were not provided for 1,360 transactions totaling $31,593.33.

  • There were 54 transactions totaling $4,851.14, in which either the patient or social worker or both did not authorize the transaction.

  • A financial request form was not provided for 33 transactions totaling $2,671.00. These transactions represented recurring, monthly payments made on the patient’s behalf (e.g. storage fees).

  • An employee that was also an Avon representative purchased items from Avon on behalf of the patients. DPC did not have evidence of what was purchased. Invoices provided by the employee detailed purchases made by the employee; however, they did not detail which patients received the items. Supervisors were unaware of the purchases. In addition, some of the items were alcohol-based, which is contrary to DPC practice.

  • For 29 of 35 trips selected for testing, there was insufficient documentation to support that appropriate transportation was provided.

  • There was one transaction for $40 in which the social worker called to request the financial request form be increased. There was no evidence of patient approval."

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