Our state (Washington) is really doing a horrible job of taking care or our most needy citizens. Even though it is written in our constitution to foster and support care, the care has been denied through legislation. I wonder if our legislators and so-called advocates have read the Washington State Constitution, specifically Article XIII. If not, now may bee a good time to read and understand.
With the recent unanimous Washington Supreme Court ruling regarding “boarding” of mental health patients in hospital emergency room as unlawful I hope that the lack of care for our citizens with intellectual disabilities will also be scrutinized by our courts.
The legislature has continued to reduce care and supports for the people who are most in need. We have heard that closing and down-sizing facilities which specialize in caring for people with high support needs will save our state money – but does it? Even it it did save money, which is highly doubtful when looking at the budget as a whole, was it the ethical and moral decision to make? Was it ethical and moral to deny people safe and skilled care they need to survive?
We are currently in a horrible crisis – not necessarily due to lack of space but due to lack of support by our legislature. These services are controlled by our legislature and because of bad and poorly thought out decisions, critical services have closed and there has been no replacement or alternative. People and families are being destroyed due to these decisions while residential buildings sit empty because they are not funded to provide caregivers for people in crisis.
For instance, we had one Intermediate Care Facility for people with Intellectual Disabilities which served over 60 people and also managed to provide crisis respite for children and adults. Frances Haddon Morgan Center closed with promises of more community options. Where are these options? They have not materialized at all. Was this a wise decision? Not in my opinion and in the opinion of many others.
Currently we have many people in crisis asking for residential care and again, even though they see beautiful, remodeled homes on campus settings with trained, stable staff and supports, they are forbidden to access this care.
I would like to see every legislator take a tour of Fircrest Residential Habilitation Center in Shoreline, take a look at the empty duplex on this beautiful campus then listen to the stories of people in our community in crisis who have requested respite and admission and have been told “no – we have no space.” After this experience, I would then like to hear your recommendation to the other legislators on what we should do to minimize the crisis to our families and support our communities.