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A disabled man got a throat full of maggots due to neglect

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Steven Wenger has been unable to walk, speak or breathe on his own ever since a devastating car crash in 1991. For 26 years, he’s relied on the care of others to clean a hole in his windpipe for his breathing tube.

Unfortunately, while he was under the care of workers in a New York state-run group home last summer, that didn’t happen.

According to an investigation done by the Associated Press, caretakers failed to keep his windpipe clean and maggots were found in his throat. Twice.

“I know Steven isn’t important to anyone else, but he’s a child of God and no one should be treated like this.”
Walter Wenger, Steven’s father

Walter Wenger, Steven's father, told AP that he was shocked by the lack of quality care available to the disabled in the United States.

"We have a health care system which is probably, and is claimed to be, the best in the world. But from my experience with my son, this is at best a third-world country."

After discovering the maggots in his son’s throat, Walter moved him to a hospital for care. Now he says the group home refuses to take his son back.

“Now that he’s got maggots, they want him out. He’s a side of beef that no one wants," he said.

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New York officials investigated the case, but never released the report.

Since there are no consistent disclosure rules, most states are relatively silent when it comes to publicly releasing information on care of the disabled.

“What the hell are they hiding? They won’t tell the public, or anybody for that matter, what they’re doing.”
Harvey Weisenberg, a former state lawmaker whose son who is disabled


New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli was denied information after seeking to audit the agency that investigates neglect cases like this one.

"What's troubling is this cloud of secrecy that seems to cover their operations, " said DiNapoli. "So you don't know if they're doing the job that they're expected to do."

Officials there say they cannot release detailed information on investigations because of rules about privacy.

At the time of publishing, no one had been disciplined in this case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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