A court decision on whether the state or the mother of a disabled son should have control of the 51-year-old’s medical information was postponed Monday until a judge can decide whether the proceedings should be public.
The Department of Developmental Services filed a motion Monday in New Haven Probate Court to block the public and the media from the ongoing hearings and proceedings involving the care of George Griffin.
A new state law, which took effect October 1, says that guardianship issues are not public information.
New Haven Probate Judge John A. Keyes said he will rule on the motion to keep Griffin’s medical records private “as soon as I can.’’
Lindsay Mathews, Griffin’s mother, is fighting the state’s attempt to share her son’s medical information with a private company that’s coming in to run what had been a state-run group home.
Mathews’ son currently resides in state care at Brook Street group home in Hamden. Griffin has cerebral palsy and suffers profound intellectual impairments.
After Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and DDS announced plans to privatize the group home that Griffin lived in for decades Mathews objected to the change in care.
Mathews filed an injunction against the state in Superior Court looking to prevent them from giving her son private care or transferring his private medical information to the new owners of the group home. That lawsuit is separate from the Probate Court proceedings where the state is seeking to obtain her son’s medical information.
Keyes postponed Monday’s hearing until he could make a ruling on public access to the probate proceedings.
Members of the media and state workers who care for Griffin were in courtroom during Monday’s hearing.
“I am my son’s mother and I know what is best for him,’’ Mathews said. “The Department of Developmental Services is not listening to parents and DDS’ actions will harm our children. It’s heartbreaking to feel so powerless about the future of your child. I hope DDS reconsiders their bullying tactics.”
The decision to convert from state to private operators for residential services for state residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities was made in August when DDS Commissioner Morna Murray submitted a plan to Malloy’s budget office. The plan is expected to save the agency $42 million in 2017 and nearly $70 million in 2018.
Under the plan, 30 group homes will be converted to private operation by Jan. 1, 2017. In March, it announced the closure of two regional centers in Meriden and Stratford. Those facilities will close by October and several other day programs also will be transitioned to the private sector.
“The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) provides funding for supports and services to 16,724 individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout Connecticut. Less than six percent receive services from public run programs,” Nicole Cadovius, public information officer for DDS, said Monday. “Ninety-four percent receive a range of programs from qualified community-based providers who have created opportunities for individuals to participate in residential, employment, recreational, and social opportunities in their communities.”
She said she knows these changes are difficult for individuals, families and staff, but “they are necessary for us to maintain critical supports.”
She said they are required to maintain privacy and Monday’s guardianship matter was a “confidential legal process.”