Advocates For Closing Institutions Show Up In Larger
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 6, 2003
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA--Mental Health Commissioner Kathy Sawyer is holding public meetings this week to address her proposal to close six state-run institutions housing people with mental retardation and mental illness.
On Tuesday, both supporters and opponents of Sawyer's plan rallied at the Statehouse. According to the Associated Press, more than 200 people showed up to support the plan, while a few dozen showed up to protest it.
Sawyer's proposal calls for closing the Lurleen Wallace Developmental Center, the J.S. Tarwater Developmental Center and the Albert P. Brewer Developmental Center and moving the residents into the William D. Partlow Developmental Center in Tuscaloosa. It also would close one nursing home housing seniors with mental illness and relocating two others. Seventy-two long-term care beds at an institution for people with mental illness would also be relocated.
The closings would save the state about $40 million a year, Sawyer said. The state is currently spending $16.2 million to house 68 people with mental retardation at Wallace Center alone. That's an annual cost of $240,590 per resident -- or $659 per day per person.
On the other hand, providing a person with supports in the community would cost about $56,000, and 24-hour care would cost about $81,000 per year.
Sawyer's department currently serves 6,700 people in community settings and about 300 in large institutions. Just two years ago there were more than 600 people in the institutions.
During one meeting this week, Sawyer was asked if she could guarantee new jobs for state workers at the institutions.
"I cannot," she told the crowd of state employees. But Sawyer has said that many would be able to transfer to other state agencies.
Sawyer said her final proposal will go to Governor Bob Riley next month.
"Advocates, fores of state mental center closings gather" (Tuscaloosa News)
"Wallace Center could stay alive as group home" (Huntsville
"Trouble in Alabama's Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express)