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 Telegram & 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.