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Spokane

Care facilities face cuts

Fri., Oct. 16, 2009

State prisons also targeted in reports from governor’s financial managers

Lakeland Village, the residential facility for the developmentally disabled at Medical Lake, would be phased out in eight years for all but the most acute-care patients under a cost-cutting plan to close state institutions.

A consultant’s report released this week by the governor’s Office of Financial Management also recommend cutting more than 1,600 beds from the state’s prisons by closing either the old main institution at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla or downsizing the McNeil Island minimum-security facility.

At the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, 235 beds for juvenile offenders would be lost through closure of the Maple Lane School in Rochester, Wash. The Developmental Disabilities Division would lose 250 beds by closing all its intermediate-care facilities. Francis Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton would close by 2013, and Rainier School in Buckley would shut down by 2017.

By 2019, only the division’s “skilled nursing” facilities in Lakeland Village, Fircrest and Yakima Valley would remain open to care for severely disabled patients.

“Some of these are people institutionalized for more than 50 years and are hard to place,” said Kate Lykens Brown, a spokeswoman for the budget office.

Lakeland Village has 238 residents – 180 intermediate care clients and 58 skilled nursing clients.

The consultants envision the intermediate care clients being relocated to small, state-run group homes of no more than four residents each or private supported-living centers. The report also suggests a third alternative facility “to provide a higher level of care for clients with greater medical needs,” Lykens Brown said.

However, this alternative does not currently exist, said Tim Welch, public affairs director for the Washington Federation of State Employees, which opposes the closures.

“The report does not take into account the cost of moving these people,” Welch said. “It may end up costing a lot more money and harming the quality of services for residents.”

The union spokesman said the state already has cut staffing at Lakeland Village and the other intermediate care facilities “to the bone.”

Union members plan to protest cuts at Lakeland Village on Monday in front of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Spokane office, 1611 W. Indiana Ave., between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The governor and the Legislature are expecting final reports by Nov. 2.

“It’s way too early to speculate on any impacts on the OFM study,” said John Wiley, spokesman for DSHS in Eastern Washington. “It’s one of many considerations the governor and Legislature will have to weigh when they are developing their budgets.”



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