Posts Tagged ‘Glavin Regional Center’

More questions about the Glavin land deal

October 10, 2012 6 comments

Suppose a couple owned a house, and one day, the husband stated that they couldn’t afford to live there anymore and would have to move out.  However, rather than putting the house up for sale, he said he planned to let a friend live in it for a dollar a year. 

Might the wife not object and say maybe they could afford to stay there if they didn’t need the income from a sale of the property?

Isn’t this same sort of giveaway that the administration has just agreed to concerning 69 acres of state-owned land at the Glavin Regional Center, which has been targeted for closure as of next July?

As we previously noted here, the governor signed a bill into law in August to lease 69 acres of land at Glavin for $1 a year for the next 25 years to the Town of Shrewsbury.  The land subject to the lease consists of 15 acres currently used as soccer fields and 54 acres of farmland.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported in 2010 that the total amount of land at Glavin is “more than 120 acres” and had been assessed at $22.36 million.  Thus, the land that has been effectively given to the town in this case could be worth as much as $12.9 million.

Many people seem to think we oppose the continued use of open space at Glavin for recreational and agricultural uses.  That’s not the case.  Our main question here is what happened to the deliberative process that the administration promised with regard to the disposition of the land?

We ask this question not because we want to see this land sold or used for any particular purpose.  But like the wife in the house giveaway scenario above, we question the administration’s assertion that it can no longer afford to keep Glavin open and must evict its longtime residents.  If closing Glavin is about saving money, why effectively give almost $13 million worth of land away without going through the promised reuse process?

In 2008, the administration announced it was closing the Glavin, Fernald, Monson, and Templeton developmental centers, contending there would be a fiscal savings in doing so.  In making the closure announcement, the administration expressly stated that disposition of the land at those centers would be subject to a “collaborative” reuse-committee planning process.

Legislation was subsequently enacted into law to set up land reuse committees for the Fernald Center (Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2004, S. 402) and for the Monson and Templeton Centers (Chapter 59 of the Acts of 2009).  However, a bill filed in January 2009 to establish a similar land reuse committee for the Glavin Center never got out of the Bonding Committee. 

The Glavin land reuse bill, which had been filed by then state Representative Karyn Polito, had stated that the proposed reuse committee “will be mindful of the rights of current Glavin residents, and their need for adequate and appropriate housing, clinical services, and appropriate staffing…”

Why Polito’s bill died and was never refiled is a mystery to us.

Interestingly, in February 2010, the administration proposed to sell what appears to be the same parcels of land at Glavin that it is now prepared to lease to the town for $1 a year.  Area legislators opposed the planned sale of the land. 

What caused the about-face on the administration’s part from wanting to sell the Glavin land with no formal reuse process in place, to agreeing to effectively give the land away, with no formal reuse process in place?

We’ll continue to ask these questions, hoping for some answers.

State’s decision to lease Glavin land for $1 raises questions

September 30, 2012 1 comment

For years we’ve heard from the administration that it’s necessary to close the Glavin Regional Center and three other developmental centers in Massachusetts because the centers have become too expensive to operate.

But if these closures are about saving money, why has the administration agreed to essentially give away 69 acres of state land at Glavin to the Town of Shrewsbury?  In agreeing in August to lease the land to the town for $1 a year for the next 25 years, the state will forego potentially millions of dollars it would have gotten from the sale of that land.

Our main question really is this: Why has the administration reached this deal with the town outside of what would normally be a formal and deliberative process to determine the best options for reuse of the land?  The 69 acres, which include soccer fields and farmland surrounding the Glavin Center, comprise at least 62 percent of the total Glavin campus.

For the past eight years, the state has been involved in a painstaking and often contentious reuse process with the City of Waltham over the 200 acres at the site of the Fernald Developmental Center, which has also been targeted for closure.  That process has brought parties from all sides to the table, and has involved public hearings and a report by a planning consultant. 

No such reuse process has yet occurred at Glavin, and yet a decision has already effectively been made about the disposition of a majority of the acreage at that site.  It’s a decision, moreover, that is a great financial deal for the Town of Shrewsbury, but not for the state, which is supposedly so strapped for cash that it has had to evict what were hundreds of longtime residents of the developmental centers from their homes.

Here by the way, is what Governor Patrick had to say this past May about the reuse process at Fernald:

Everybody’s on it (the Fernald reuse process).  All the interests, all the factions, and that’s how it should be. I know the city has expressed interest in buying it (a portion of the Fernald land).  I don’t think the state’s in a position to give it away. But I think selling to the city, some or all of it, is certainly an option.

So, the state is not in a position to give away any of the Fernald land, yet it is in a position to give away the Glavin land?  And why, in the case of Fernald, are all the interests at the table whereas, in the case of Glavin, the only interests at the table were the state and the town?

Both Glavin and Fernald have been targeted by the administration for closure, over the objections of most of the family members and guardians of the residents of those facilities.   The administration has repeatedly claimed to the Legislature that it would save up to $40 million a year in closing the Fernald, Glavin, Monson, and Templeton developmental centers.   Yet the administration and other opponents of the centers have repeatedly opposed an independent study of the cost of closing those facilities. 

The $1 lease arrangement at Glavin stems from a home rule petition that was presented by Shrewsbury to the state Legislature in May.  The lease involves both a 15-acre tract that has housed town soccer fields for many years and a 54-acre tract of farmland.  The Legislature approved the lease and the governor signed the bill in August.

We’re not opposed to preserving the land at Glavin as farmland or as soccer fields.  But we question why this lease arrangement for 69 acres of land was done outside of a formal disposition process for the land and why it was done in such a seeming hurry. 

We’ve filed Public Records requests with the state for records concerning plans for the reuse of the Glavin property.  We’d like to know what’s going on.

Rep. Haddad endorses independent study for Glavin Center

September 12, 2012 8 comments

House Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, who just spearheaded a successful effort  to block the immediate closure of Taunton State Hospital, supports undertaking an independent study prior to the closure of the state-run Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Speaking at a meeting Tuesday at the State House attended by Glavin family members,  legislators and their staffs, and officials of the Department of Developmental Services, Haddad said the independent study should cover “the entire DMH (Department of Mental Health) and DDS system.”

“Someone has to be the first to say we’re not afraid to have an outside study done to tell us what’s wrong and what’s right,” Haddad said.  She maintained that internal studies done by the administration that showed a savings in closing Glavin and other developmental centers in Massachusetts “are asking people to trust the results.”

The Tuesday meeting was organized by Republican Representative Matthew Beaton, whose Shrewsbury-based district is home to Glavin.  In 2008, the Patrick administration targeted the Glavin, Fernald, Monson, and Templeton developmental centers for closure as of the end of the current fiscal year.

Fernald has remained open pending the outcome of appeals filed by the guardians of 14 remaining residents.  The Monson center was officially closed last month.

During the Tuesday meeting, I pointed out on behalf of COFAR that the planned closures of the four developmental centers will leave only two locations in Massachusetts for federally regulated Intermediate Level Facility (ICF) care.  Those remaining facilities are located in Danvers in the northeastern corner of the state, and Wrentham in southeastern Massachusetts.  The administration has deferred a decision on whether to close the Danvers facility.

During the meeting, Will Dumont of Brookfield, the father of a resident of the centrally located Glavin Center, said it would be much more difficult to regularly visit his son if he were transferred hours away to Wrentham.

Sheila Bailey, another family member, said her brother had suffered abuse in a facility that he had lived in prior to coming to Glavin.  “It was like a cloud was lifted when he got to Glavin,” Bailey said.  “He finally had a life there.”

Beaton maintained that Al Bacotti, a former director of the Glavin Center, who has taken an active role in opposing its closure, maintained to him that in the next 10 to 15 years, the loss of the ICF-level care provided by facilities such as Glavin will force the state to rebuild them.

DDS Deputy Commissioner Larry Tummino said he did not dispute that the services at Glavin are excellent.  He contended that “we can structure that clinical expertise in the community.”   Tummino also maintained that guardians of some 31 residents at Glavin have agreed thus far to move those residents to other locations.

That latter claim from Tummino brought a sharp rebuke from Roland Charpentier, the president of the Glavin family association.  Charpentier said  the guardians who agreed to leave Glavin did so “because they were scared to death that Glavin is going to close.”

Haddad also was critical of the administration’s contention that the services provided by facilities such as Glavin and Taunton state can be replicated in the community system.   “There are more horror stories than good stories in the private sector,” Haddad said.  “You’re asking people to trust a system that has a lot of flaws,” she said to Tummino and a second DDS official who attended the Tuesday meeting.

“This is not something you can just say ‘it’s going to be okay,” Haddad added. 

Haddad said she was nervous about what the independent study approved for Taunton State Hospital might conclude, but that she believes the outcome will be support for “a continuum of care” in the mental health system that would include Taunton State.

Speaking specifically about the plan to close Glavin, Haddad maintained that it is harmful to remove intellectually disabled people from their longtime homes.  “People cling to the people and things that they know,” she said.

The Telegram & Gazette makes the case for Glavin and Taunton State

July 11, 2012 1 comment

We often feel that we are alone in the battle to preserve the existing fabric of care in Massachusetts for the developmentally disabled; but every so often, we hear words of encouragement from people with no personal stake in the outcome.

Today’s editorial in The Worcester Telegram & Gazette is a heart-warming case in point.  We’re admittedly biased in favor of maintaining the long-time homes of residents of places such as the Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury, the Fernald Center in Waltham, the Templeton and Monson Centers, and Taunton State Hospital.  We think the Telegram & Gazette editorial makes one of the best cases we’ve seen yet for preserving both Glavin and Taunton State, both of which have been targeted by the administration for closure.

Thus far, the Legislature has come through for Taunton State, having approved funding to keep that facility running pending completion of an independent analysis of the cost of operating it.   Unfortunately, the Legisature hasn’t approved the same thing for the Glavin Center.  We think the Telegram & Gazette editorial should be sent to every legislator.  It’s reproduced below:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Worcester Telegam & Gazette

Compassion and the state

The disagreement over the closing of Taunton State Hospital and the effort to reverse closure of the Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury might seem to matter to only a few.

But such facilities ably serve some of our most needy individuals. They are staffed with gifted professionals. Most especially, they are places where hope pours in daily from family members and others who cherish their special someone who lives there.

No place that serves people with mental retardation or other serious developmental difficulties is or can possibly be perfect. But despite the holdover label of “institutionalized,” these facilities are alive with love.

Lawmakers should work to override Gov. Patrick’s Sunday veto of $5.1 million to keep Taunton open. And, in the case of Glavin, the Massachusetts Coalition of Families and Advocates Inc. is right to fight to keep the remaining 28 residents of the 63-bed center in their home. State officials intend for all Glavin’s residents to relocate by June 30.

Glavin, which opened 37 years ago, has enjoyed a strong reputation for being a good home and a good neighbor.

During a recent meeting with the Telegram & Gazette’s editorial board, the families of some residents joined other knowledgeable spokesmen in attesting to the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of the care the Glavin Center provides.

Mr. Patrick envisions residents of Glavin and Taunton being served in group homes. For some, group homes work. For these residents, they do not. The reality is that development disability will never adapt to a one-size-fits-all solution. Medium and larger facilities where patients are more closely guarded have a vital role.

The administration argues that group homes will save money, but the money — which amounts to a tiny fraction of the state budget — is not the chief concern.

Rather, that must be the lives of needy individuals and the families who cherish them. The challenge is how to provide appropriate care, case by case. And the answer is that the Glavin Center and Taunton State Hospital are facilities that meet a need that will always exist, conferring dignity, safety and love on the most developmentally needy among us.

If these options cost a bit more than state officials, auditors, and some taxpayers would like, well, they are exactly what our tax dollars should be used for.

Massachusetts claims to be a caring state, a model for the health, education and welfare of its citizens. This is a moment for Mr. Patrick and lawmakers to prove that. Keep Glavin, Taunton and other such places open — welcoming places that work to care for those individuals and their families who need their services so desperately.

Compelling testimony in support of a facility cost study

July 22, 2011 1 comment

Introductory note:

A proposal for an an independent cost study prior to the closures of the Templeton, Monson, and Glavin developmental centers may have run into a legislative roadblock last spring, but the idea isn’t dead yet.

State Representative Anne Gobi of Spencer is continuing to push for the measure, which was shot down by the legislative leadership during the state budget debate in April and May.

A bill filed by Gobi, which would specify that the study be done by an independent, non-governmental entity appointed by the state Inspector General, was heard by the Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities on Tuesday, July 19.

“I’ve heard from officials who would like to close these facilities,” Gobi stated in a press release, “but I have also spoken with the families of patients at these centers – and they have presented evidence that suggests that there would be no cost savings with closures, yet there would be a reduction of services.

“Frankly, I think it is best that an independent study be conducted before any further decisions are made,” Gobi added.

The Patrick administration has produced two virtually identical cost studies in closing Templeton, Monson, and Glavin, which have concluded that  closing the centers will save more than $20 million annually.   However, the administration’s cost analyses have been seriously flawed.

In testimony submitted on July 19 to the Children and Families Committee, COFAR noted that the administration has thus far been asked to produce after-the-fact analyses of the costs and benefits of a previously announced policy of closing the centers.  An independent review of this policy is needed.

The most compelling testimony in favor of Gobi’s bill was not about the cost issue per se, though, although cost is always present as a backdrop to any dicussion about public sector services.  That compelling testimony came from family members of developmental center residents.  Here is one example of the testimony submitted to the Children and Families Committee:

…I would like to share with you the story of our brother, Danny Healey, and what his life at Fernald meant to him and to our parents.  I realize that this letter is long and I appreciate your taking the time to read it.  I have also enclosed a copy of Danny’s eulogy, which I trust will offer further proof of the benefit of residential settings for some people.

Danny was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a host of other problems months after his birth on June 14, 1958.  For fourteen years he lived in a two-family house in Somerville with his parents, grandmother, great-grandmother, and four siblings.  A great-aunt and her husband lived in the apartment downstairs.  Unable to speak, feed himself, drink from a cup, or use the toilet, Danny needed help with every aspect of life. Our parents cherished him and, despite the constant care that he required, they planned to keep him home forever.

Danny’s doctor, however, pointed out that his self-destructive, repetitive behaviors (gouging his ears, banging his head against the wall and windows, etc.) could lead to permanent injury or even death.  He suggested firmly that Danny would be better served at a state school like Fernald.  My parents were devastated.  How could they send their precious child to strangers at an institution known to provide inferior care?  But they trusted the doctor, so with heavy hearts they enrolled Danny at Fernald.

Two wonderful people gave them hope that they had not consigned their son to hell.  The first was a middle-aged direct care worker, Mary Meaney, who had been sent to Fernald as a child and who had never known any other life.  Unlike Danny, who was best served in a residential setting, Mary was someone who could have been well served in a community based group home.  She promised my parents that she would protect Danny as if he were her own child, and that is what she did, for years, until he moved to Cottage 13, where he remained, surrounded by people whom he loved, until he died.  The second blessing in Danny’s life was Judge Tauro, who put the entire school under judicial oversight.  His action was the catalyst for a series of positive reforms at Fernald that allowed Danny to live there happily and safely for 28 years.

The direct care staff and professionals at Fernald were among the finest individuals I have ever been privileged to know.  Their respect for the residents was awe-inspiring.  Together they created genuine homes for some of the most developmentally challenged and vulnerable citizens of the Commonwealth.  Danny thrived there, to the best of his limited abilities.  Every year when we attended his annual evaluation, we would leave filled with admiration for the staff who gave unstintingly of themselves for the benefit of the residents.  Because my parents didn’t drive, my siblings and I would pick up Danny for regular home visits throughout the years, and at the end of his life, when it was difficult to care for him in our homes, we would visit him at Fernald, drive him around the campus, then feed him his favorite treat of cake crumbled up and mixed with pudding.  For twenty-eight years at least one of us was at the school almost every week, and we can attest, from extensive personal experience, that for people like our brother, facility-based care is the optimum choice. 

As Danny weakened in the last years of his life, the rumors about Fernald’s closing became more strident and frequent.  My parents were in a panic.  They knew that Danny would never be able to function in a group residence and that for him the only alternative was a nursing facility, where he would pine for his friends and caregivers.  They actually prayed that Danny would go to God before he had to endure such a fate.  As Danny’s neurological condition worsened, the staff provided loving and attentive care until he slipped away on January 15, 2001.  At his wake and funeral, which were attended by hundreds of people, we celebrated his life as well as the devotion of those who provided him with such a rich and nurturing environment at Fernald.  And we were grateful to God that we never had to watch him wither away in a nursing home setting where his physical and emotional needs could never have been met.

I grieve for the families of profoundly limited individuals like Danny who watch helplessly as facility-based care is eliminated for their loved ones.  I implore you to consider the value of such an option for those with severe medical and intellectual disabilities.  I know firsthand what a difference it made in Danny’s life and I hope that it can be available for others who need it.

Thank you.


Margaret Chisholm

 Another example of testimony submitted on Tuesday to the Children and Families Committee:

I am guardian for my third cousin, Thomas Doherty (DOB 2/25/2951), a native of Woburn, MA. Tommy has lived at Templeton Developmental Center (TDC) since 1973, when he turned 22 yrs.  and was discharged from a residential program where he had been since age 10.

To summarize, Tommy has been in care for 50 years, 38 of which have been at TDC, which Tommy refers to as “my school.” Tommy, an only child, was cherished by his parents, who struggled to provide safe, competent and nurturing care for their troubled, developmentally disabled son who could not be managed in their Woburn community in the 1950s and 60s.  When they found Templeton, Tommy and his parents were relieved that his needs could be met in such a caring, state of the art facility with strong vocational, behavioral and physical support provided by a dedicated staff.

Throughout his adult life, Tommy has worked in the cow barn under supervision of a watchful staff. He lives with several other men in a lovely cottage, and his medical needs, which include catheterization twice daily and administration of psychotropic medication, are provided without incident. His nutritional needs are monitored, and his diet is adjusted frequently. Tommy knows staff and residents, making frequent visits to “favorites” each day.

When a beloved staff member died, Tommy delivered a heartfelt eulogy. Tommy, cognitively impaired and emotionally disabled, enjoys loving and meaningful relationships with his extended family. Tommy is puzzled by the loss of friends as they are moved from their TDC home, and he is most anxious about his own fate. His mother, prior to her death 14 years ago, requested that I be Tommy’s guardian. This is an honor, with much gratification from my relationship with Tommy. His joy in seeing cousins, however distant, is disarming. His memories of his parents are filled with delight. Tommy’s pleasures are simple…the Red Sox, the Beatles, his picture albums, a good day at work, coffee, a cigar now and then, and his home at TDC.

Mary Ann Ulevich

One more example from a non-family member:

 My name is Mark Zanger. I live in Jamaica Plain and work as a Family Partner in mobile crisis intervention on mental health. I wish to register my support and evidence on behalf of H1859, requiring a study before closing the Glavin, Monson, and Templeton Developmental centers, and for S28, requiring the continuing use of state property at Templeton for the care and education of persons with intellectual/developmental disability.

I do not have a relative with ID/D, but became familiar with these
facilities while working for the Coalition of Families and Advocates.  As newsletter editor, I visited all six developmental centers then in operation with families and met with staff and residents…

Massachusetts has capacity for more than 100 adults with
MR/MH diagnoses at the Glavin Center, a modern facility built and staffed for that purpose. It was never an overcrowded “state school” and families there were not plaintiffs in Ricci v. Okin, and residents are not Ricci class members. The family members I met there have similar stories — their loved one was dually diagnosed as a child in the 50s and 60s and 70s, poorly served by the mental health systems of that era (which relied on talk therapy and crude medication for a population which is not often articulate about feelings or side effects), were not successful in the new group homes, and by enormous family efforts and political interventions were able to secure a place
at Glavin, where their loved ones have thrived and recovered with comprehensive and specialized treatment. Some Glavin residents returned to the community every year since it was founded, but in recent years people with more complex issues have failed expensively to make such moves.

Until higher level specialized mental health services for persons with ID/D are developed and available across the state, the Glavin residents cannot be safely or economically supported in the general community or even in state operated group homes, except for a few just off the Glavin property which rely on back-up services from the regional center.

I believe that these same arguments apply substantially to the Monson Center, specializing in MR complicated by seizure disorders, and even more so to the Templeton facility, specializing in persons who might otherwise be imprisoned. Templeton is a beautiful place, a working farm with meaningful work much enjoyed by the residents, a property long dedicated to the support of persons with ID/D, and one with little potential as commercial real estate — another tactical consideration that must be brought to light if the legislature is to make wise decisions.

Many states which are reducing or eliminating
other forms of congregate facilities have in fact invested in and
expanded those, like Templeton, with a mission to serve “forensic
cases.” Some of these individuals will be in secure treatment whether DDS provides or not, and the annual cost of a prison bed (not reimbursed by Medicaid or SSI) in Massachusetts may be larger than the state contribution to an ICF/MR bed at Templeton, Glavin or Monson.

It is the complexities of social accounting which drive my support for Rep. Gobi’s bill, which I personally would like to see amended to have the closure studies done independently. Even before I followed this question closely, wildly differing cost estimates, per person or per facility, were published periodically. A collection of these estimates over time would confound a Madoff accountant. On the snowy weekend of the Governor’s announcement of the plan to close four facilities, his press release included two different figures for the annual savings
anticipated, and no reconciliation.  A commission appointed by
Governor Romney likewise issued several conflicting estimates.

The administration has a quiet agenda to shift all state human services to Medicaid, Section 8, Food Stamps, SSDI, SSI and other federal budgets or cost shares. Leaving aside the intention of both major parties in Washington to cut Medicaid in the coming years; leaving aside the populations entitled to services who are not eligible for Medicaid or other federal services; leaving aside the dilution of specified comprehensive services under Medicaid’s ICF/MR standards; leaving aside the social accounting of what families must give up to keep multiply disabled people at home,  accurate and comprehensive accounting of the costs of evicting and relocating  these long-termresidents from familiar homes has never  been placed before the Legislature or the public. There are individual cases and academic studies indicating that there are few if any savings to the taxpayers.
There is growing public impatience with the outsized salaries paid to private contractors when compared even with the generous benefits of veteran state managers. There is accumulating anecdotal evidence that the land purchases and contracts to build new group homes to replace state facilities, some old and decaying, some reasonably modern and efficient, are not untainted by political dealings and overpriced bailouts in the acquisition and building business — entirely separate
and obscure expenditures of low-income housing loans outside the DDS budget.

 In several instances, anecdotal but indicative, persons have
been moved from facilities to group homes shortly before their deaths, wasting considerable sums to break up relationships and disorient people who might have been permitted to live out their lives in longterm homes.

…I would like to end with two overarching reasons to study carefully the closing of three more state facilities for people with ID/D (and in my own advice, not to do so), and to specifically reserve the property at Templeton for the future needs of this population.

The first reason is demographic. According to the Coleman Institute “State of the States” reports, more than half the clients of DDS are living with parents now 60 years old or older. This is a demographic triple-whammy (better life expectancy for disabled people; the baby boom caretakers aging; the baby boom consumers also aging into increased disability) which has already gridlocked DDS residential services. This year’s budgets do not fully cover residential services for the most disabled youth turning 22, and ArcMass has suggested a supplemental budget request for them.

To see the housing shortage issue in the most realistic terms, it is
important to compare the absolute number of persons served by DDS with the predicted number of qualified people in the Commonwealth, based upon the IQ 70 definition, two standard deviations from mean IQ.  The math would suggest that DDS has reached fewer than half the eligible individuals. There are some life expectancy reasons to assume that the reality is a little better than that, but there are still tens of thousands of disabled people outside the gates (perhaps fully as many as double the present enrollment if one adds in the barely ineligible, a fatter slice of the bell curve).

Some of these people are in nursing homes despite the Rolland case, some are in prisons, where DDS has no outreach; many are evident in any visit to a homeless shelter; some are transient, some are enslaved (as we learned in the “Raynham House of Horrors” case in the late 1990s); probably the largest unserved
group are quietly supported in homes and families, often those of
immigrants and minorities, to which there is no outreach, or where government services are unknown or culturally stigmatized.

Our team periodically finds children and youth in all these invisible categories, and they too are part of the reason the Legislature needs careful study before closing residential options at any level.

This is simply not the time to close any viable residential options
for people with ID/D, and certainly not the ICF/MRs supported by hundreds and hundreds of families who struggled to obtain such excellent placements for their loved ones.

 The second overarching reason to study facilitiy closures, to delay and avert facility closures, and to secure the permanent use of the Templeton property is the proven mortality that ensues when very disabled people are moved from sheltered settings into “community settings” with increased transportation, unfamiliar and rotating staff, and waits for use of the group home van for medical appointments. You can read a summary of studies of these dangers in the records of Massachusetts by former US Attorney Michael Sullivan that I wrote when working for COFAR at this Internet address:

The definitive Shavelle et al study of de-institutionalization in
California is footnoted in that article. Shavelle found mortality 47% higher than predicted even after throwing out deaths within six months of moving, to avoid the controversy over “transfer trauma.”

The most recent international meta study, by Kozma et al, advocates of community-based treatment, freely admits that outcomes (including mortality) remains one of three (out of ten examined) areas in which facility treatment remains superior to existing community-based systems studied. The other two areas where community systems all over the world are falling short are “challenging behaviors” and “overuse of psychotropic medication.” (You can read the full text at

I am fortunate in my job to wrestle small problems one family at a
time. I do not envy the Legislature its choices in this difficult
financial environment. We must all be penny-wise. But this is exactly when an independent study of a key decision in the largest human services budget is penny-wise, shilling-smart, and not a bit pound-foolish. To steal from the most vulnerable people served by the Commonwealth is not the right way to get through a budget crisis, even one of long duration.

Why study what has been studied before? So we don’t have a concrete block or a lamp falling on someone’s car. So we
don’t parole killers who kill again. So we don’t have another Raynham House of Horrors.

The fight goes on to save the Glavin Center

March 30, 2011 6 comments

At a breakfast on Tuesday at the Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury, state lawmakers heard from family members and guardians trying to save this critically important facility from closure.

And the families heard from the lawmakers, who said they will have a tough battle on their hands to get their message heard among the well-organized forces on Beacon Hill calling for the shutdown of all remaining developmental centers in the state for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Meanwhile, lawmakers will file an amendment to the state budget bill coming up for debate in the House, requiring an independent cost analysis before Glavin and two other centers can be closed.

State Senator Michael Moore of Milbury made the comment during the Glavin breakfast, saying the amendment will specify that the study be done by the state auditor, inspector general, or another independent entity selected by a competitive bidding process.

COFAR has criticized a cost analysis submitted to the Legislature last summer by the Patrick administration, which claims that closing the Glavin, Monson, and Templeton developmental centers will save the state $20 million a year.  No analysis was submitted at all for the Fernald Developmental Center, which is the first on the administration’s closure list.

Because we believe there are numerous flaws in the administration’s cost analysis, we at COFAR have urged that an independent study be submitted to the Legislature. 

Rep. Anne Gobi (left), Rep. Vincent Pedone (center), and Senator Michael Moore (right) at Glavin breakfast. Moore said lawmakers will file a budget amendment calling for an independent analysis of the costs of closing three developmental centers.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, Al Bacotti, a former director of the Glavin Center, made the case to the lawmakers that Glavin is both cost-effective to operate and functions as a “safety net” for a group of severely intellectually disabled people who have been unable to live successfully in community-based settings.

Bacotti maintained that he saw a number of instances in which costs tripled for Glavin residents needing intensive care, after they were transferred to community residences.  Those residents no longer had the benefit of centralized clinical, therapeutic, and medical services, which had been available at Glavin, he said.

Bacotti also disputed the argument made by facility closure advocates that Glavin and the other developmental centers are segregated from the surrounding community and restrict residents’ freedom.

Former Glavin Director Al Bacotti (standing) speaks at breakfast. Seated to his left is Roland Charpentier, president of Friends of Glavin. Bacotti termed Glavin "cost effective" and a "safety net."

“There are actually more freedoms here (at Glavin) than for many people in community settings,” Bacotti said.  “To the argument that everyone should be in the community, my answer is it didn’t work for the people here.”

Rep. Vincent Pedone of Worcester replied at that point that he needs more data on those cost issues because “people (on Beacon Hill) are telling us the opposite is true.”  COFAR delivered a set of facts and figures on developmental center and community costs directly to Rep. Pedone today (Wednesday).

During the Tuesday breakfast meeting, Wilfred Dumont told the lawmakers about his son, Stephen, 26, who has been a Glavin resident for the past four years.  Stephen is intellectually disabled and is deaf and has cerebral palsy and other medical conditions.  Prior to coming to Glavin,  he lived in a community-based facility where he began banging his head so severely that even a helmet didn’t help.

“He opened up his head at least 30 times,” Dumont said.  That behavior has ceased since he’s been at Glavin.  “Now he’s smiling for the first time and he comes home on weekends,” Dumont added.  He said Stephen still has some behavioral episodes, but they no longer go on for a month at at a time. “To move him to another facility won’t work.  You might as well put him in a cage,” he said.

Stephen Dumont (center) with his mother, Rose, and father, Wilfred. The staff at Glavin got Stephen to stop banging his head and injuring himself.

We will tell more about Stephen’s case and about other Glavin family members’ stories in our upcoming, May issue of The COFAR Voice.

Other lawmakers attending Tuesday’s legislative breakfast included Reps. Anne Gobi of Spencer, Kimberly Ferguson of Holden, Paul Frost of Auburn, and Matthew Beaton of Shrewsbury.

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