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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A state employee who previously worked at an Idaho state-run center for people with serious developmental disabilities and mental health disorders has taken the first step toward suing the state, saying in a claim that she was pulled from her job after reporting abuse and neglect.

The Idaho Statesman reports Kelly Hardy filed a tort claim against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center in July. It’s at least the third such claim filed by a former employee at the center.

The facility in Nampa has about 100 employees who care for about two dozen residents.

Hardy has worked for the Department of Health and Welfare since 2002, and she was promoted last year to a job overseeing some staff members.

She says she became aware of incidents where staff members neglected or threatened residents, but when she reported her concerns to department leaders she was transferred to a different division.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Hardy contends that two patients said a staff member threatened to beat them; center officials failed to notify Child Protective Services about child abuse allegations; a patient had a wound that went uncleaned and untreated before resulting in the patient’s hospitalization; and another patient who couldn’t use the bathroom independently would be found in the morning soiled with human waste.

Hardy also contends that prison inmates who did maintenance work at the facility would be left alone with patients, and that some staff members goaded a patient into a fight so that they could put the patient in a physical restraint they had set up.

Hardy says she tried to change the culture at the center and attempted to set up a bonus system for staff members who acted as positive role models. She said employees were afraid to report abuse or neglect because others had been fired after making similar reports.

Hardy says that after she and the facility director met with state administrators, she was pulled off administrative duties. Two weeks later, she says, she was removed from the facility after making a post on Facebook about the department’s internal investigation into the abuse claims.

She wasn’t fired but was transferred to another division in September. Hardy remains employed with the department.

Hardy filed the notice of tort claim July 9. The state has 90 days to respond to it. She also filed a lawsuit in Ada County 4th District Court with similar allegations. The lawsuit is on hold until the state’s response deadline for the tort claim.


Information from: Idaho Statesman,