Everyone who has an opinion on the proposed closure of the Fernald Developmental Center by June 2010 and three other developmental centers should remember these points:
1. The decision by Governor Patrick which was probable made by the Secretary of Health and Hunan Services, the Assistant Secretary and the Department’s Commissioner did not have to made, two weeks before Christmas. There is no judicial, legislative or other bureaucratic reason for this announcement before January 5, 2009. The only reason was to insult the residents and their families one more time before Christmas and Hanukkah.
2. At a Friday conference call to the involved families the Commissioner was challenged that her estimate of how many guardians of developmental residents would chose a community residence or, relocation to the Wrentham Developmental Center or Hogan Regional Center did not added up with the number of mentally retarded individuals involved. The Commissioner reminded the families that these people were part of a geriatric group and there would be mortality. [Emphasis is mine]
3. The whole affair (conference call, press conference and a proposed family meeting at Fernald on December 20) confirms that being a human being is not a prerequisite to work for the Executive Office of Human Services in Massachusetts.
4. One community zealot said that the announcement means that “now” the developmental center residents will be allowed to relocate. I want to remind everyone that transfers out of a developmental center were never closed in the 35-year history of the Ricci lawsuit. Admissions have been closed at the discretion of the Commonwealth and during this time the guardians of many younger mentally retarded individuals were deprived of the opportunity to evaluate this residential option.
5. The Department’s standard response is “No one ever asks for a developmental center placement.” The reason is that except for some politically connected families no families are allowed to evaluate a developmental center placement objectively.