Centers of Excellence – change from the bottom up

We often hear about Centers of Excellence but what does this mean?

I think it should be fairly obvious but apparently it’s not.  For parents, family members, people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD), advocates, community members, healthcare providers, vocational and recreational support people, it generally means a community which interacts and supports those with IDD in all aspects of their life in a manner which provides the best quality of life for that person.  It is a collaborative effort from all angles.

This can be done but for some reason, even though we hear about needing centers of excellence, they are being broken down rather than built up by the very agencies which should be supporting them.

Here in Washington State the Developmental Disabilities Administration recently proposed a “feasibility study” at the cost of $601,000 to actually dismantle much needed Nursing Facility for those with IDD which also provides respite for many across the state, evicting the current residents from their home to create a “Center of Excellence” which has a totally different definition than one would expect. There are so many things wrong with this proposal which was most likely generated by a recent court decisions regarding people with mental health issues and the fact that federal reimbursement for care is better in the Developmental Disabilities Arena than in the Mental Health Arena.

This proposal needs to be stopped before it goes any further, wasting our valuable funds on things when those critical funds could be used for so much better, actually providing services and supports utilizing existing resources and building up what we have rather than tearing down, dismantling and rebuilding programs which would actually provide less than what we currently have.  This makes no sense.

Our state has a history of doing just that.  In 2012 Frances Haddon Morgan Center was closed, a Residential Habilitation Center  (RHC)which was home to over 50 residents and provided much needed respite care.  FHMC was also situated on the western side of the state providing an alternative which was closer to many people’s homes of origin.  This was a huge political mess with much misinformation provided and believed by those who made the decision but the decision was made which The Arc, the Developmental Disabilities Council and others celebrated as a victory.

At least one young man’s life was lost as a direct result of this closure and many others were displaced more than once from one home to another.  This alone is inexcusable.  The other issue is the misinformation regarding “cost savings” and the fact that many now are being denied services which could have been provided if FHMC was still operational.  FHMC is currently just a building, empty, sitting unused for many reason – it is a shame to walk through the campus and know what good use it could if only it would be allowed to be utilized.  Families and communities are hurting due to this decision.

What did happen was that there was no cost savings at all – in fact, just the opposite.  Rather than building several crisis care centers located strategically around the state, there has been one center for youth which has can serve up to 3 youth at a time.

The program which was built to “replace” FHMC has been open since December 2012.  To date they have served 12 children, only one of whom returned to their family home (which was one goal of this program). The current cost of this program is $1,165 per day.

This is the program for which FHMC was shut down for – how many people are now going without help, are suffering in crisis due to this huge error on the part of some so-called advocates?

We can’t let history repeat itself yet that is exactly what this “feasibility study” is doing.  It must be stopped before it goes any further.  Let’s look at what a “Center of Excellence” really is and build these up with the resources and available space we have – it’s all there already – it just needs to be utilized appropriately.

 

DDA CenterofExcellence

 

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