About a week before I submitted my question, Grace Lerman, a member of The Fernald League, submitted her own question following a Town Hall meeting in Amesbury, asking how the commonwealth would be able to meet the future needs of persons with mental retardation, and requesting that the Fernald League Board meet with the governor. Grace, who did not get the opportunity to ask her question in person either, has not even received a letter in reply to her written question.
Both Grace and I sincerely believed the Town Hall meetings might (MIGHT) give us an opportunity to hear directly from the governor for the first time on the issue of care for this very vulnerable population. We are concerned that the administration's plans to close the Fernald Developmental Center are being pursued in the absence of an overall plan for care for the entire population served by the Department of Mental Retardation.
To date, we have never heard directly from Governor Patrick about this issue. Given the lack of responsiveness to our questions at the Town Hall meetings, we are begining to doubt we ever will.
I should note that I actually didn't even receive the July 28 letter signed by the governor until August 20. When I hadn't received anything as of August 6, I called the governor's office and was told by Eugena Ossi, a constituent services aide, that the letter had apparently been sent to the wrong address and that it would be re-sent to me. On August 20, when I called to say I still had not received it, Ms. Ossi emailed me a scanned copy.
The letter stated only that the governor appreciated my “concern regarding children and families who are coping with developmental disabilities.” The letter said the governor had asked Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby “and her team to respond to you directly about some measures we are taking at the state level.”
I thanked Ms. Ossi by email and said that to date I hadn't heard from Dr. Bigby or her team. I also noted that the governor's letter didn't seem responsive to my question. That same day (Aug. 20), Ms. Ossi responded to me, saying she was very sorry that I hadn't yet heard from EOHHS. She said she had forwarded my email to the governor's office's contact at EOHHS and that “hopefully you will be hearing from them shortly.”
I waited a week and still heard nothing from EOHHS. On August 28, I emailed Ms. Ossi once again and asked whether she could follow up with her contact at EOHHS to find out when they would provide me with the information that the governor had promised. To date, I have not heard either from EOHHS or Ms. Ossi.