Editor’s note: This letter to the editor exceeds the standard 300-word limit, but given the topic and its impact on the Ohio Valley community, we are publishing it in its entirety.
Thank you for the coverage of the layoffs at the Gallipolis Developmental Center. As much as we are very heartbroken for the employees, we would like to share our perspective as parents of a resident there.
Our son, Scott, 41, has resided there for almost 14 years. We had severe difficulties with his behavior and made the heart-wrenching decision that we could no longer care for him without help. With the assistance of Scott’s SSA, we had an emergency placement to GDC in December 2003.
GDC is his home and the caregivers are his family. After so many years of fighting for the rights of people with disabilities, it is unraveling right before our eyes. The powers that be are saying they are giving them choices to live and work in the community rather than a segregated facility. Many have been moved out of GDC because they either had no family to advocate for them or the guardian felt pressure to do so.
We have been approached with this option, but have vehemently refused. After all, that infringed on his and our right of choice — and “one size does not fit all.”
As we have told Superintendent Margaret Mossbarger, “Scott will be the last person out the door.” Now the real point — the state has decided they do not want to support all of the developmental centers in Ohio and to save face, they are painting the picture that is all about choice. We are aware of the Olmstead and CMS rulings of downsizing ICFs, but when is enough enough?
They are closing two developmental centers in 2017 and the remaining centers have been cut to the core. Of course, it is all about money. I told Ginnie Whisman from the Ohio Department of Disabilities that it is like they are moving cattle around from ranch to ranch and my son is not a piece of livestock. She said she understood my feelings, but how could she when this is not her loved one? Our son is happy, healthy and loved by his caregivers. For us to have to uproot his life when GDC closes is a travesty.
Most everything he needs is on the campus of GDC, such as nursing care, a medical director, access to planned activities in the community, a workplace and, most importantly, a group of people that care. Why would we want to move him out of this setting when the response time for emergencies would be almost immediate compared to the distance that EMS, sheriff, etc., would have to travel to some of the community housing, as well as many other problems too numerous to mention.
All of these issues are very concerning to us. We love our son and feel he (and others there) should be treated with respect, dignity and compassion, and have the right to live where he has been for all of these years.
Thank you for letting us share our viewpoint. We may be fighting a losing battle, but until we draw our last breath, we will continue to be our son’s advocate.
Dannie and Carlene Greene