Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Former Institution Residents Succeed With New Freedom
January 2, 2004

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN--In May of 2002, the Department of Health and Family Services took over operations of Hearthside Rehabilitation Center, a 200-bed institution housing people with developmental disabilities. The non-profit company that had operated Hearthside and another intermediate care facility was charged with 11 criminal counts of abuse and neglect of residents.

Officials soon promised to close the facilities and find better places for the residents to live.

"We couldn't find worse," said Governor Jim Doyle.

Family members of many residents were skeptical that the community could support their loved ones, or that the residents could live without 24-hour supervision.

"When they told us Hearthside was closing, I was terrified," said Sandy Potter, whose sister, Carol Fath was a Hearthside resident for 14 years. "I didn't know what to do."

This past August, Carol moved into her own apartment where she watches her own movies, keeps her own food and decorated her own Christmas tree.

"I love it," she said Tuesday afternoon, while sitting on her futon sofa. "I have my freedom."

On Wednesday, the state officially closed Hearthside. Most of its other former residents now live in group homes and apartments.

According to a feature story in Wednesday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, they are adapting well to their new surroundings and new freedom.

Related article:
Residents adapt as former home closes (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)


©2018 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.