OHIO Center shutdown plan runs ahead of schedule

With the Youngstown center full, patients are being shifted to private care.
APPLE CREEK, Ohio (AP) -- One of two state-run centers for the disabled targeted for closure by Gov. Bob Taft by 2006 is well ahead of its shutdown schedule.
In 2003, Taft announced plans to close Apple Creek Developmental Center, in Northeast Ohio, and the Springview Center, near Dayton. He said the shutdowns would save about $23 million in four years.
Before Taft's announcement, Apple Creek had 179 residents and 381 employees. The facility now has 84 residents and a staff of 286, according to the state.
Robert Jennings, spokesman of the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, said those numbers put Apple Creek six months ahead of its anticipated timetable.
"But we're sticking with the original closing dates at both centers," he said. "We may be ahead today, but we don't know if things will speed up or slow down in the next 18 months."
Springview Developmental Center, set to close in June, has 29 residents and 128 caregivers, down from 84 residents and 178 caregivers at the time of Taft's announcement, according to Jennings.
Relocating residents
Jennings said figures on residents of both facilities show 88 have moved to another state developmental center, 28 have left for private intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded and 13 have used waivers to move into various community settings, including group and family homes.
Within that time, 23 have died, he said.
State centers in Youngstown, located closest to Apple Creek, and Montgomery, which is nearest to Springview, have no vacancies for newcomers.
Apple Creek and Springview residents still are waiting on a new waiver promised by the state that would pay room and board in private intermediate care facilities -- the closest equivalent to care available in the state centers.
As a stop gap, the state has approved use of its Individual Options Waiver, normally used to fund home, therapy and personal care, for residents of the centers that are set to close.
In December 2003, Taft vetoed a bill that would have given a closure commission the power to stop such shutdowns. A month later, the governor signed a compromise bill that required him to at least justify the closings to an administration-appointed closure commission, over which Taft would retain final say.
Last May, that commission voted to support Taft's decision, and preparations for the closings picked up speed.

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