Nevada will begin conducting independent inspections of group homes contracted by the state to serve the mentally ill, according to a state health official.
The plan was announced this week in the wake of a report by the Reno Gazette-Journal on the poor conditions of one facility in Sparks that serves four people. A home operated by state contractor Project Uplift was left in disarray and the organization was evicted by the homeowner, the newspaper reported.
Cody Phinney, administrator of the Public and Behavioral Health Division, said several agencies will help with inspections of every home in the state's system over the next several days.
"They will have fresh eyes looking at our facilities," Phinney said.
The Sparks home had stained carpet and walls, smashed window blinds and dirty, ripped mattresses for clients to sleep on. Jeanette McDaniel, who rented the home to Project Uplift three years prior, evicted the organization because it had fallen behind on rent. McDaniel called the whole experience a "nightmare" and she couldn't believe the state did nothing.
"It's appalling to me that the state would come in and not look at how these people were living. These are people who have no voice," McDaniel told the Gazette-Journal.
State workers often bent the rules to ensure Project Uplift remained a certified provider, according to the newspaper. Some employees likely overlooked the deteriorating state of a home because of how difficult it is to find other providers, Phinney said. Closing a group home could mean even more dire circumstances for those living there.
"They know that these people might be living on the street or under a bridge (if not for the house)," Phinney said. "That doesn't excuse it, but it may provide some explanation."
Phinney expects inspections to be completed by Thursday. Phinney said the state also wants to help McDaniel with repairs to her house.