Problems found in the management of wards under the county's care are being addressed, according to District Judge Dave Gamble, who took responsibility for some of the issues in an interview.
“My first reaction when I saw some of the shortcomings was how I could have let certain things happen,” Gamble said about guardianships managed by Public Administrator Lynn EnEarl. “We tend to get into auto-pilot mode, and one of the things I made clear was that I myself have the ultimate duty with regard to these wards.”
EnEarl didn't file annual reports on her wards or inventories in cases where she was named guardian by the court. The reports and inventories are required by state law, but EnEarl's attorney, Mike Rowe, said that in some cases judges waived the requirement.
The issues with the public administrator were brought to light by Special Advocates For the Elderly, who were appointed by Gamble and District Judge Michael Gibbons.
Gamble said he felt that the court and the public administrator have a duty to the wards, and he laid down new rules for dealing with them.
“Certainly, there were shortcomings in the performance of Ms. EnEarl, but I believe those have been corrected and that all of us involved in guardianship cases have realized that we have not had the day-to-day needs of the ward foremost in our minds,” he said. “It was not just Ms. EnEarl's fault. It was just as much mine as the ultimate authority in these cases. When a practice over decades has gotten into a pattern, it's tough to break yourself out of that pattern. The SAFE advocates helped us break the pattern.”
Gamble said that he gave EnEarl direction for the care of the wards. He credited the Special Advocates For the Elderly for their help.
“It has been a boon for the system in Douglas County and led to a much better protective system for the wards,” he said. “My perception is that this has been really positive.”
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