BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Resident Pamela Owens' drowning death at the Arc of Acadiana-Northwest center has motivated a watch dog group to investigate the center for the mentally and physically disabled.
The Advocacy Center, a non-profit group that works to protect the rights of people with disabilities, is looking closer into the circumstances surrounding Owens' death. Staff members told police they noticed the woman missing from her residence at the center at about 4:45 a.m. and began searching the grounds for her. They found her body in a bayou a few hundred feet from the facility an hour later and called police.
The Community Living Ombudsman branch of the Center will be conducting the preliminary probe before any further steps are taken. Program director Jeff Rowe says they will look to see if Owens had the appropriate staff with her and the right protocols in place to ensure her safety, but Rowe has his doubts. "It doesn't sound like that happened because she shouldn't have been able to get out and be gone for as long as she did, had they had staff watching the residents, like they should be doing," Rowe said and adds residents at the Arc of Acadiana-Northwest facility have very specific plans to be followed by staff there. Rowe says they will investigate whether Owens' needed 1 on 1 supervision and if that was being supplied and properly documented.
Rowe wants to make sure the quality of care didn't change when the center went from state-to private care late last year. "Since the privatization of these large state facilities, we're just concerned that the providers are providing the proper services to its residents," said Rowe.
The Advocacy Center's goal, he says, is to make sure the most vulnerable population are getting what they need. "We're also seeing that their rights are being upheld and they are not being abused and neglected."
Rowe says if the center cooperates, the preliminary investigation could be completed by the end of the week.