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 State Produces Some Records

February 4, 2009 - Last Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health provided The Banner with 667 pages of records the agency claims are related to its three-year study of the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home.

After The Banner filed an extensive public record request with the ISDH on Jan. 19, the ISDH offered to provide the newspaper with the same records it had already given an Indianapolis television news program. The Banner accepted this offer, with the understanding that the ISDH would still honor the newspaper’s Jan. 19 request, which covered several records not included in the 667-page packet of materials.

Despite its claim to have conducted a three-year study of the Home, the ISDH, by its own admission, has no official report to show for its efforts. The 667 pages of records provided last week, however, were put together in a format that resembled – physically, but not substantively – a report.

The records came bound in a single three-ring binder with “Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home” prominently typed in a large font on the cover. “Indiana State Department of Health” and the agency’s seal were printed below it on the cover.

Included in the records were 14 pages of Indiana statutes dealing with the Home, as well as two copies of two-and-a-half page “executive summary” regarding the ISDH’s plans to close the Home, a document the agency had previously provided to The Banner. Also included in the binder was a printout of an 18-page PowerPoint presentation the agency said was used to help State Health Commissioner Dr. Judith Monroe prepare for a meeting with Home employees last month, which had also been previously provided.

Other records in the packet of materials were: a 67-page report dealing with Silvercrest Children’s Development Center, a facility in New Albany that the ISDH closed in 2006; a 45-page “Existing Facility Assessment and Evaluation Study” of the Home completed in late 2000 by BSA Design; a 2002 correspondence from DNR containing 108 pages of details about the Home’s facilities; a 26-page “Master Plan and Facility Survey” of the Home from May 1989; detailed proposals from 2006 sent from private firms interested in taking over management of the Home; and several e-mail correspondences sent to or from ISDH and Home employees.

The Banner is still reviewing the 667 pages of records and is waiting for a full response from the ISDH to the newspaper’s Jan. 19 record request. A spokesperson for the ISDH has told The Banner that it may take several weeks to gather all of the records the newspaper has requested.


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