Opinion

Guest Op-Ed: No Cages, High Wages: A Renewed Call for Cross-Movement Solidarity between Unions and Disabled People

By October 22, 2019 15 Comments

Polk State Center (Photo: State of Pa.)

By Jessica Benham & Dustin Gibson
info@pittsburghcurrent.com

On August 14, 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced the beginning of a three-year process to close Polk and White Haven, which are two state centers for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/D). The transition from institutional to community-based care aligns with policies developed by Gov. Tom Wolf’s Administration, which is apart of the national trend that essentially began following the Olmstead v. L.C. United States Supreme Court decision in 1999, which held that the segregation of disabled people constitutes discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Though disability rights advocates have celebrated the move toward community-based care, some family members of residents and employees of institutions have expressed concern about the closures, citing the lack of alternatives to institutions and the loss of union jobs. Five unions have workers at Polk and White Haven: SEIU 668, SEIU Healthcare PA, AFSCME Council 13, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, and Office and Professional Employees International Union. 

In response to these concerns, members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan bill – HB 1918 – that would put a moratorium on the closures of state centers. The same bill has been introduced as SB 906 in the PA Senate. 

In this moment, the freedom of disabled people is once again being pitted against the desires of workers and concerns of family members. We deem it necessary to issue a renewed call for cross-movement solidarity between disabled people, family members, and workers – knowing that our liberation is bound up together. We believe in a future in which no one is caged. This calls on us to imagine systems and structures that do not yet exist and reject any notion that the freedom of some can only come at the expense of others. 

To envision a path forward, we must first understand how the prospect of keeping institutions open are blatantly ignoring the depths of cruelty and indignity that institutions have long perpetuated. It is also incumbent upon us to lay bare the deep connections that exist between any and all forms of institutions and the similarities in the forms of violence that are deployed across them.

At the core of every argument in support of institutions is the belief that disabled people are undeserving of freedom and lack the ability/capacity to contribute to the world in ways that societal constructions have deemed “valuable.”

The justifications for institutionalizing disabled people are not far from, and at times markedly similar to the social institutions of slavery, convict leasing, and imprisonment – all of which are rooted in racialized notions of criminality, gender and sexuality, intelligence, deviance, disability, productivity and value in a capitalist system, and so on. 

For example, some black people who escaped slavery were labeled as having mental illnesses such as drapetomania, which is defined as “the overwhelming urge to run away.” Upon capture, they were taken to asylums and “treated” for such “illnesses” with “some hard kind of work in the open air and sunshine,” according to the book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present.

 Regardless of public or private funding streams, institutions and prisons alike are typically profitable. The annual cost per resident at Polk and White Haven is $409,794 and $434,821, respectively. Although, the workers and contractors with the institutions profit from their existence, the amount of public funds the state of Pennsylvania is willing to pay highlights that the warehousing of disabled people is not solely based on money.

The explosion of incarceration during and after the deinstitutionalization movement illuminates the ever-present relationship that exists between these institutions. In Pennsylvania, like other states, some of the institutions were converted into prisons to accommodate the rapidly growing prison population at a convenient cost. It should be noted that disabled people represent the largest “minority” population in jails and prisons, and a disproportionate amount of them are BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) and low/no income. 

The most infamous institution in Pennsylvania is Pennhurst State School (originally called the Eastern State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic), which is often credited as the inspiration for the movement to deinstitutionalize in the United States, in large part due to the active resistance that was mounted from the moment of its inception. 

In 1913, less than a decade after Pennhurst opened, the Biennial Report to the Legislature submitted by the Board of Trustees, included Pennhurst’s Chief Physician quoting the prominent eugenicist, Henry H. Goddard by stating: 

Every feeble-minded person is a potential criminal. The general public, although more convinced today than ever before that it is a good thing to segregate the idiot or the distinct imbecile, they have not as yet been convinced as to the proper treatment of the defective delinquent, which is the brighter and more dangerous individual.”

The practices of institutions have long supported and carried out the mission of eugenics. In addition to the forced sterilization of hundreds of thousands of people across the US, segregation within institutions based on perceived gender was enforced to prevent the residents from procreating. The conditions at Pennhurst reflected the routine practices of violence in institutions.

Emily Smith Beitiks, Associate Director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, reports: “There were cases in which residents were raped, sometimes while others watched and did not attempt to stop it. Residents who acted out were cruelly punished—one man was beaten repeatedly with a toilet bowl brush, leaving welts all over his body. Others were neglected, some left naked in beds or caged in cribs all day long.”

The abolitionist struggle to shut down Pennhurst culminated in two lawsuits (PARC v. Pennsylvania and Halderman v. Pennhurst) which ultimately resulted in the closure of Pennhurst and the transition of residents to community living placements. These lawsuits also set legal precedents which are relevant to the current closures. 

Polk State Center, one of the institutions currently slated for closure, also has a thoroughly documented history of neglect and human rights abuses. In the 1970s, parents filed complaints against the school for abuse of residents, including the use of beatings and wooden cages as punishment. In the 1990s, the state of Pennsylvania sued nearly the entire staff of doctors at Polk for neglect and abuse that resulted in the death of 4 residents. As with all institutions, the violence inflicted upon the people being held at Polk continues to persist. In January of 2019, a woman was seriously injured at Polk, and an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the injury, including a possible cover-up, are ongoing. 

Ultimately, however, the problems with institutions are not in individual cases of abuse or neglect, but in the very structure of institutions themselves. 

In the 1978 case of Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Federal District Court Judge Broderick of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that people with disabilities have the three rights: the rights to habilitation, to be free from harm, and to non-discriminatory habilitation. He ruled that institutionalization at Pennhurst violated these rights and ordered that Pennhurst be closed and residents placed in community living arrangements. 

Although the Halderman v. Pennhurst ruling was enough to close Pennhurst, there wasn’t a clear legal path to deinstitutionalization until Olmstead v. L.C. In the Olmstead decision, United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg articulated: 

“States are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions when the State’s treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities.” 

These are some of the many factors that PA’s Department of Human Services must take into account when working to move institutional residents from Polk and White Haven into community placements. As noted in the announcement of the upcoming closures by DHS, “treatment” professionals will work with each individual to ensure an appropriate new placement. This should be led by disabled people through peer support, alongside care workers. 

As Pennsylvania continues to move away from the institutional model, there are several publicly funded models to consider. Among these, the most prominent are state hospitals, group homes, in-home care, and noncare (or intentional absence of care). State hospitals have, like the state centers, also been rife with abuse, and are subject to our same criticisms with regard to the ways in which institutionalization fundamentally dehumanizes people. 

Group homes, which are typically run by private care providers and funded by the state, are the most common placement for people with ID/D receiving waiver services in the state of Pennsylvania, representing roughly 57% of those receiving waiver services. Services for individuals at group homes are typically funded by the Consolidated Waiver, while the services provided for individuals in their own homes are typically funded by the Person/Family Directed Support Waiver. 

Group homes offer a greater amount of freedom and autonomy to residents than state institutions do, which will increase as Pennsylvania develops its plan to follow the Final Rule (federal guidance mandating a list of requirements for providers), while also costing less per resident than state institutions. The publicly-funded, privately operated model of care (both in group homes and in people’s own homes) is the state model with the best outcomes for disabled people that currently exists in Pennsylvania, though not the best model we can imagine. 

After all, private care providers are typically not unionized and experience incredibly high rates of staff turnover, which, in turn, impacts the quality of care. I (Jessica) sit on the Information Sharing and Advisory Committee for the Office of Developmental Programs (within DHS) alongside representatives from many providers. I typically see these providers as more concerned about profit than the wellbeing of their employees and residents. I have heard private providers oppose movements toward transparency that would reveal the reports of negative treatment of their residents. With that in mind, we share the concerns of family members and unions about the privately-operated model of care. 

Care workers perform incredibly important labor and deserve the protections of unionization, as well as competitive wages, benefits, and safe working conditions. The working conditions of care workers are the living conditions of disabled people, providing a natural foundation for solidarity. 

We stand in solidarity with care workers, who have always been part and parcel of the larger disability community, especially those who have made sacrifices to support the procurement of freedom with disabled people. We agree that privately held, profit-driven group homes are not ideal places to work or live. 

We are also unwavering in our position that no one should be held in a cage, regardless of the amount or type of jobs they create. Access to a unionized job should not be contingent upon the captivity of anyone, including disabled people in institutions. 

One of the major barriers to closing institutions is the lack of funding allocated for Home and Community-Based Services in PA and beyond. The waitlist for services has always been in a perpetual state of limbo where people with ID/D somehow are expected to make do without care services until a spot opens up for them. If requested, the state of Pennsylvania is obligated to provide “care” in a state center, but living in a state center automatically places a person as priority 2 on the waiting list, meaning that as long as there exists a priority 1 list, people in institutions are never waiver eligible; unless, of course, the institution is closed, in which case they receive an immediate transition plan. This institutional bias is fundamental to the operation of institutions and precisely why the closing of institutions is pivotal to moving towards the provision of care we all deserve.

The push for a moratorium on the closure of state centers by family members and workers is not new. Workers in institutions have nearly always opposed their closure, and, as the Pennhurst Longitudinal Study notes, the closure of Pennhurst revealed “a schism among parents of [r-word] citizens regarding the future of institutional care” (p. 41). Given the problems outlined above with both state centers and alternative models, it is understandable that all of those impacted by the impending closures of Polk and White Haven are not on the same page. Yet, as the Pennhurst Longitudinal Study goes on to document, following the closure of Pennhurst, even parents who initially opposed the closure have admitted that it was the right decision. A similar trend was found among family members after the closure of Hamburg State Center in 2018. 

It is long overdue to end the immoral practice of segregating disabled people from society. We are vehemently opposed to the passage of HB 1918 and any similar bills that impede the closure of institutions. The existing alternatives are not favorable for workers or disabled people,  so it is on us to imagine and build models that are. It will require courage, sacrifice, and solidarity to do so; all of which has been done before and will be done again. 

We envision a future where access to union jobs are not contingent upon the institutionalization and imprisonment of people. A future in which workers and disabled people work in solidarity:

To end the unjust captivity of disabled people in state institutions. 

To end the unfair treatment of workers and of residents in private care settings. 

To unionize all care providers. 

To imagine a world that provides the care we all deserve.

 

Jessica Benham has an MA in Bioethics (Healthcare Ethics) from the University of Pittsburgh, where she has been part of the campaign to unionize grad workers. Her research is about the ethics of decision-making by individuals with ID/D in institutional and group home settings. She is also an Autistic person and the Director of Development for the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy. Jessica recently announced her candidacy for state representative in PA House District 36.

Dustin Gibson is a community builder who develops he[art]work to expand the collective consciousness of marginalized communities and address the nexus between race, class, and disability. He’s a co-founder of the Harriet Tubman Collective and Disability Advocates for Rights and Transition.

 

15 Comments

  • Brandon Shirey says:

    I’m not sure the last time you’ve visited one of these centers, but your impression/information is quite outdated and/or wrong. We do not isolate or cage people up, and the Penhurst comparison is beyond insulting.

    I kindly ask that you do your research. We aren’t the Boogeyman. We’re a wonderful option for the ID/DD Dual Diagnosis community.

  • Brandon Shirey says:

    Also, you failed to mention this moratorium will give priority to the list of 13,000+ people waiting for services, instead of ripping people that already have excellent care from their home.

  • Shelbie Stromyer says:

    As a BSN nurse for 30 years working in both the public and the state system I so disagree with all your comments. I worked at Polk Center for 10yrs and the amount of love and care given to these people by the working staff is unimaginable. Those living there have their own sleeping area and privacy. They have their own friend both folks living their and working there. They have dances, go to amusement parks, go shopping locally, and attend both baseball and football games. The info you provided is so outdated that I am sure you were provided info from DOH or read some very old article. When something does happens it is reported but in the public sector 90% of incidents aren’t even reported and that information was taken by a report from a govt. report this year. Get your info correct and stop playing with outdated ideas .

  • Anonymous says:

    Just one question: Where do you get your information? Until you answer that, well, there is nothing else I can really say aside from everyone is entitled to their ‘opinion’ uninformed or not I suppose. Thank you for yours as it motivates me to even work harder in educating the masses on the integral role facilities like Polk and White Haven play in a ‘complete’ model of care for people living with IDD in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

    Sincerely,
    Joe Andrasi

  • I don’t know where this person got there information but it sure is disgusting! They should really look into facts! I was employed for 35 years and retired 2 0 and still interact with individuals never never did I see anyone IN a cage! They have much more freedom of interaction with people than many! IN MY YEARS I’VE SEEN GROUP HOMES AND CENTERS IF I NEEDED HELP MY CHOICE WOULD BE A CENTER ! Sad to read such lies this is what is wrong with the world Today!

  • Nicole Oniboni says:

    What you’ve said in this opinion piece couldn’t be further from the truth. Leave the past in the past and quit chastising us for past mistakes we didn’t make!! Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
    I’ve worked as a support staff my entire adult life in some capacity. Almost 20 years! I’ve been blessed to spend the last 14 with the people that call Polk Center their home. I spent six years in a nursing home and this is not meant to bash nursing homes, but Polk Center is amazing! I can confidently say in a matter of seconds that if I had to place a loved one it would be at Polk Center if that were an option. It’s hard to work in someone’s home 8 plus hours a day, often times spending more time at a “job” than at home with my other family, and not love them like family. So as a self-appointed family member to many I need to be their voice. Why on Earth would you take someone away from the life that they love, the home that they love, to place them somewhere you think is better suited to their needs. Especially since you’ve not taken the time to sit down with them and let them be included in this major life decision. We’ve been taught to always offer choices! Where’s that option now?

    The staff at Polk Center are very well trained. Training you don’t get elsewhere is offered so often. Countless hours are spent receiving training to always make sure staff are up-to-date on the policies and procedures, CPR, how to use adaptive equipment, lifts, safety mechanics, how to best serve people with dual diagnosis as well as how to best serve the folks that live in our center. We are a learning facility, meaning Our folks work on life skills daily. Be it a  task such as putting their dishes away after a meal or doing their own laundry. Our staff have specific times for which they are to assist with specific skills.  Our folks receive so many services that will not be afforded to them elsewhere. They have access to 24/7 doctors care as well as nurses. They have much needed physical and occupational therapy, service’s many folks get at least twice a week. If the adaptive equipment (ie. wheelchairs beds or walkers) they have to make life easier breaks, typically it’s fixed within an hour. They have their own maintenance men, plumbers and electricians to make sure nothing is broken long.  There’s a Senior Center right on grounds where one gets to interact with peers daily. They have access to speech and language specialists as well as an audiologist. There are dieticians,  a respiratory therapist and psychology specialists all at their fingertips without ever having to leave the campus. Let’s talk about leaving the campus, everyone is required to get out at least once a month, unless too medically fragile. There are countless opportunities to go to ball games, zoos, aviaries, museums, amusement parks, shopping centers and out to eat just to name a few. They are very much a part of this community they do business with the locals, their jobs benefit many and wherever there are big events who do you see there? You are guaranteed to see somebody who calls Polk Center home! To say that they are not already a huge part of this community, their Community is a very false statement. This is THEIR community where they live THEIR everyday lives.

    On campus there are so many exciting things to do also!! We have a beautiful therapeutic and recreational pool! It’s huge and so comforting! No membership or dues needed! Oftentimes folks from the group homes in the community will come and use our pool, at least once a week. There is a canteen that offers so many choices of snacks, meals, drinks and has great hot dogs! We also have a greenhouse, a ceramics shop, a car wash as well as many other workshops that keep our folKs quite happily employed. So often there is some sort of festival or parade to enjoy. There are petting zoos and sno-cones, field days, bingo, dances, balloon animals, pumpkin decorating contests and costume contests just to name a few. I could go on with all the fun things but it would literally make this go on way too long. Just a short stroll down a quiet little lane  you find the little town of Polk, which offers  friends, Jimmy’s Main Street Market, a post office, an art studio as well as a Dollar General and several churches. You don’t have to leave campus to go to church if you don’t choose to. Several times a week there are church services for any denomination you can imagine right on grounds. There’s a quaint little cottage, the guest house, where families can come to stay and visit their loved ones. It’s especially nice for families that live out of town or state. It’s located right on campus so once you’re there it’s a nice walk to visit your loved one. We have an awesome camp nested deep in the woods by a beautiful creek that is utilized from April until October or November. There are burgers, Smores and mountain pies galore! At camp you can enjoy a day of fishing, sitting in the sun or by a fire and some awesome home cooked meals. It’s right in the middle of the forest so exploring nature is a must, there is a sweet path that leads you along Little Sandycreek. You’re sure to see some of nature’s finest creatures. Who doesnt love a week at camp!

    The care and compassion shown to each other at Polk is another thing. It really is a phenomenal place to be. When someone is sick or just plain down and out, in a true fashion of friendship we rally to support each other. Whether it’s cooking someone’s favorite foods, staff getting a parade of someone’s favorite vehicles, or something as simple as getting someone their favorite decorations to brighten their day, you see that happen here. It really is one of the greatest communities to be a part of.

    I know life isn’t fair, but I’m just not sure how removing someone from their home when they don’t want to leave is fair or right. It’s a huge disservice to someone to remove them from a life that they are thriving in and love. Please don’t take this decision lightly, look at the people and know that they are not just numbers. They are not dollar signs they are loved and cared for very much.

    As I wrote this testimony I got that feeling in my stomach, like a kid at Christmas, and I realized just how much I love Polk Center and really do consider it my second home. What an injustice and disservice it is to this community, our most vulnerable citizens, to not even come and visit this beautiful Community before deciding to close it down forever and rip people from the only home that they’ve ever known and loved. Listen to their voices and their choices, please! At the end of the day I can say that my conscience is clear, I’ve done what I can to help the vulnerable citizens that need me. Can you say the same?

    Nicole Oniboni
    #PolkCenterStrong
    #WhiteHavenCenterStrong
    #WeCare❤💚
    #UnitedWeStand

  • Carol says:

    Very outdated information. A lot of inaccuracies. Obviously only interested in swaying public opinions at any cost. I’m sure you already knew about the inaccuracies but published it anyways. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • C. Nelson says:

    While I appreciate your opinion I have to wonder why you and other so-called advocates continually use the past to affirm your position and blatantly ignore the desires of the people living in the facilities. You are not advocating for the people you are advocating for an ideal that is, as of right now, not attainable. You are willing to force people from their home causing trauma because you know what’s best for them. But in the same breath say they have a right to choose. I guess their right should only be upheld if it falls in line with your agenda… You use buzz words like segregation and institutionalization but you haven’t even seen the facilities of today. You are stuck on the past and refuse to acknowledge that these facilities have changed their ways and do include the people who live there, not only into the community on grounds, but also into the surrounding community. Most people (disabled or not) feel better if they live around people like them, who share similar views or challenges or ideals which (by the way) is the definition of community. Forcing someone to live in a house when they are the only one like them there is segregation, not inclusion. Just because a person lives in a house in a “normal neighborhood “ does not mean they are part of a community. Another thing you conveniently fail to mention is that many of the people who live at these facilities are of the aging population and have such complex medical issues that they do not or will not qualify to live in a so-called group home. They will more than likely require the services of an intermediate care facility which is exactly where they already are. I ask you, what is the difference between a privately run ICF and a state run ICF? Just who pays the bills! They are set up the same way so by attacking our facilities you also attack private ICFs. Why are our facilities institutions and those are not?! This issue has many facets to consider and too many are focusing on their own views and not on the people who will be most affected by these closures. I urge you and everyone else in this argument to step back and re-evaluate you position. Try not to think of it as community versus institution. Think of it as people’s lives that are being uprooted because someone doesn’t want to pay the bills anymore. Think of it as pushing people who are already waiting for services further down the list to accommodate those leaving the facilities. Think of it as forcing the community to welcome people with behavioral and intellectual disabilities into their communities when they are not welcome. Stop trying to lump all people with disabilities into one mindset. Recognize that they all have their own views, opinions, desires and needs and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution! You say you advocate for people with disabilities but you cannot remove your own bias when doing so-focus on each individual not on the ideal.

  • Judy Truesdell says:

    I’m thinking, if I were as educated as you I would probably take a trip to visit one of these areas I was writing on before I posted an opinion about it. How many facilities / homes for the intellectually disabled have you visited? How many families have you talked to? How many of these individuals who live in these homes have you talked to?I can see you’ve dug into history and got your information from there but you are not informed about the present. You are still living in the past and I think you are too young to have been there. Why don’t you live in the present and visit these places? You are assuming way more than you know. I really don’t believe you can write the truth about something like this unless you experience it. You give these families no credibility. you believe that the people who live in these institutions in these homes don’t want to live there. You don’t even know what they are like. It is sad to form an opinion without knowledge. Is it laziness? Or were you paid to write this?

  • Ginny Pribanic says:

    I could spend a great deal of time countering this op-ed point by point, with its outdated, uninformed view of state centers. Instead, I’ll make only one overriding point. Privatization of care for those with intellectual disabilities in independent group home settings that lack suffient oversight and montoring is an ill-conceived system that needs to be completely re-engineered.

    This is not mere opinion. It is substantiated in the recent “Office of Inspector General has issues a Joint Report” that finds:

    Group Home Beneficiaries Are at Risk of Serious Harm
     OIG found that health and safety policies and procedures were not
    being followed. Failure to comply with these policies and procedures
    left group home beneficiaries at risk of serious harm.
     These are not isolated incidents but a systemic problem – 49 States
    had media reports of health and safety problems in group homes.

    The link to the full report. https://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/featured-topics/group-homes/factsheet-group-homes.pdf

  • Anonymous says:

    This article is full of misinformation, The title alone states a lie.

  • Anonymous says:

    I looked at this article because it began with a beautiful picture of Polk Center (which I now realize was a way of luring people in to read it). However, two seconds later, the article headline filled my heart with rage… CAGES?? I stopped reading the long-winded op-ed halfway through when I realized that it is so full is misinformation, untruths and all around nonsense. I then realized Ms. Jessica Benham recently announced her candidacy for state representative in PA House District 36. So here we have it Ladies & Gentleman… she is looking for your vote by trashing the longtime staff and residents at Polk Center. I am not a worker at Polk Center. I am the sister and guardian of a resident at White Haven Center which is also slated to be closed by the governor. Well, I should say may close because it is no longer a given due to the outrage of thousands of people who are fighting back. Many of those opposed to the closing of the wonderful state center at Polk are in District 36. Come on people – Get the facts and vote with common sense!

    I’ve noticed that Ms. Benham and Mr. Dusty Gibson likes to throw around the word ‘institution’ which is so demoralizing and misguided, but shhhh, we know they know that. It’s just their little way of degrading our family members. Let’s have a reality check here. Please realize that individuals like my sister, Maureen, who live in state centers have a wonderful life. There are no locks, there is no forced sterilization, there is no neglect or human rights violations, and there is no scary boogie man. The state centers are strictly regulated. All these do-gooders like to scare you by throwing the Pennhurst State School in your face with visions of torture chambers and rapes, etc. What they don’t tell you is that Pennhurst closed DECADES ago. They really need to get a new argument because that one is, quite frankly, getting a little old. Don’t fall for it. I can just picture this drama queen candidate dressing up handicapped people in straightjackets for Halloween, making them wear chains and telling them to walk the district chanting ‘let my people go.’ Do you catch my drift? She’s bonkers!

    Send me a message. I will take you on a tour of the beautiful campus at White Haven Center where my sister has lived for 50 years! It’s a place where she thrives to the fullest of her ability. She enjoys many of the things people in group homes enjoy, but to a much larger extent. She gets out into the community more than they do. She enjoys parties, parades, trips, concerts, etc. My family cannot be happier that she is living a very full life in the state center and has been doing so for 5 decades. She is happy. She is loved, not only by her family, but by the family she has at White Haven Center, who provide the 24/7 care necessary due to her multiple medical conditions. So please, believe me when I tell you that the horrors of decades-old institutions are long, long gone. Don’t buy into this woman’s craziness. Believe me, I wouldn’t trust my sister’s life to any place in which I didn’t have 100% trust. No group home can EVER match or even come close to matching the care that she receives at this place we call her HOME.

  • Cordelia Hecker says:

    I know those that I know with ID/D would support getting rid of any institution.
    Including this one.

    All institutions should close.

    Regardless of what these comments want.

    • Gee says:

      What do you base your misguided opinion on? When did you tour the center? When have you spoken to any resident or family member of the residents of Polk? Have the people that you know with ID/D that you claim will support getting rid of any “institution” visited the center or talked with family members of the residents? Your uninformed “all institutions should close” statement “regardless of what these comments want” show your limited intelligence. It appears that you think the residents and family members shouldn’t have a say as to where they should live just because you say so. Please obtain some knowledge of a subject before your speak. Your comment just makes you look stupid.

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