Last week, we discussed the unfortunate death of Laura Moore, a six year resident at the YWCA who passed away in her small apartment and went undiscovered for five days.
Despite concerns shared by residents with Residential Director, Christine Weans, she refused to check on Ms. Moore.
It took residents breaking into her apartment to discover their friend. The Delaware County Coroner is still waiting for toxicology reports to determine the exact cause of death.
Since the article, both friends and family have shared memories of Laura, and it’s obvious she will be missed. Her mother commented, “Laura always went out of her way to help others and refused to accept credit for her good deeds.”
One item which surfaced from both past and current residents was the issue of handling prescription medicine at the YWCA. We asked a front desk attendant at the YWCA about their policy, and she stated that all tenants must relinquish prescribed medicine to the Residential Director who locks them in a cabinet near her office. They are then checked out by the residents when it’s time for them to take medications.
We checked with both local and state offices of public health about this policy, but since the YWCA is not a healthcare facility, they are not regulated so the writer was referred to the Indiana Pharmacy Board. The Pharmacy Board establishes very strict regulations and codes for handling medications. Handlers must be certified or licensed and adhere to strict precautionary methods for storing and administering medications.
Based on conversations with social workers and former residents, they believe the YWCA’s policy leads to potential abuse and misuse by those in charge of protecting the prescribed medications. Several sources have filed police reports and have made accusations about their prescriptions coming up short or missing. Copies of police records confirmed these accusations. In fact, Ms. Moore’s prescription medications were not found when asked by police and the coroner’s department.
Therefore, we asked Jeremy Rick, the Executive Director of the Muncie YWCA, what policies he had in place to maintain the safety of the locked up prescription medicines. We asked what best practices were established to follow up on resident complaints about missing meds. We also asked if complaints would prompt drug testing of those who held keys to cabinet holding the pills. We got no response.
We’d like to repeat the YWCA’s mission, “To empower women, eliminate racism, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.”
Calls were made to the Indiana Pharmacy Board inquiring about whether the Muncie YWCA’s prescription pill storage procedures had been approved by their board. The only response we received after numerous phone calls was “No comment.”
It’s unfortunate that the Executive Director of a facility receiving nearly $1 million of taxpayer funds during the Sharon McShurley administration to improve their building isn’t more cooperative with public information requests. As opposed to putting forth a fundraising effort to attract dollars from donors interested in supporting their mission, they applied for and received dollars from community development while other centers and organizations were denied allowing the YWCA to upgrade windows and upgrade electrical wiring.
We can certainly understand why our Muncie Family YWCA is keeping a low profile. Allowing a resident of their facility to go undetected for five days is embarrassing. However, Laura Moore’s death allowed residents to share stories that are anything but empowering to the women who have no where else to go. The YWCA is falling short of its mission and there are some policies and procedures which need immediate attention by the Board of Directors.
We are hoping that the untimely death and unfortunate circumstances surrounding Laura’s death serves as a impetus for change in an organization dedicated to help women who have nowhere else to turn. As opposed to taking advantage of these women with demeaning policies and dictatorial leadership, we’re hoping the Board of Directors investigates these complaints, checks into their policies, and re-evaluates existing leadership within the Muncie YWCA.