Mass. Closing 4 Institutions For Mentally Disabled

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The Patrick administration announced Friday it would close four of the state's six institutions for people with developmental disabilities, including the Fernald Developmental Center.

Along with Fernald — the oldest publicly funded facility for people with developmental disabilities — the state will shut down the Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury, the Monson Developmental Center in Palmer and the Templeton Developmental Center in Baldwinville.

The Wrentham Developmental Center and the Hogan Regional Center in Hathorne will remain open.

About 900 people live in the six institutions. The Department of Mental Retardation said about 316 people — including 180 who live at the Fernald facility in Waltham — will be transferred to community settings or one of two remaining state institutions during the next four years.

"I know that this announcement will be difficult for some families, but I can assure you that I know that the staff of (the Department of Mental Retardation) and the leadership there will engage individuals and their families and guardians in a very thoughtful, personalized assessment and transition process," said Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, secretary of Health and Human Services.

A spokesman for the Fernald League, which represents patient families, said the scope of the closings was a surprise.

"It's disturbing, because they had previously said they have no plans to close other facilities," spokesman David Kassel said. "And our concern had been that when they closed Fernald, they were going to transfer their clients to these other facilities. I don't see how the math adds up. If they close these other facilities, where will their people end up? It seems like everybody is just going to be competing with each other for a reduced number of beds."

Gov. Deval Patrick has argued that closing Fernald and the other facilities will put residents in more comfortable settings and free up resources to better serve the department's other 32,000 clients who receive community-based services.

Patrick has tried to close Fernald and move its residents before, but the move bitterly opposed by some of their relatives and became the subject of legal action. A federal judge ruled that the facility had to remain open, but that decision was overturned in September.

This program aired on December 13, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.