State needs to support those with disabilities

Reading an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, my heart started to beat fast with the headline “Fate of state centers for people with intellectual disabilities debated in Harrisburg.”

Reasons for the parents of the severely mentally disabled for not using the centers for their children are closed admissions, bad press and to get a mentally disabled child in a center you have to go through the court, and this is expensive.

Every year the state complains about the long list of people with disabilities waiting for the state to provide funding for their care. Why does the state want more added to the list if they can’t take care of 13,000 clients on the waiting list, by closing all of the centers?

The land where the Ebensburg Center is located, the way I understand it, was given by a farmer for the care of children with various health needs. I don’t know if the state bought it or for how much.

But is interesting that 70 acres of land along Route 22 could be the reason for the lawmakers to be looking at prime commercial land to sell. They already sold land to two businesses from the Ebensburg Center campus. When it was sold, did they put the money toward the upkeep of the residents of Ebensburg Center or did the money go to Harrisburg?

When they say it is expensive to keep the centers open they are right. We, as parents that are on Social Security, pay half of our Social Security for the care of our child, and we are glad to do so.

The centers now house the profoundly mentally disabled. Those living in the centers have complex physical issues and behavioral problems so the centers are less restrictive, more hospitable, better equipped and better staffed to satisfy their needs.

This is much better than putting them in the house next door.

The centers are a success story of the best way of taking care of the profoundly mentally disabled — 24-hour care with doctors and nurses on call.

The centers offer education according to their mental age, work if they can do it, room and board, activities, dentists, physical therapy, RNs, CANs, speech therapists, social workers, psychologists, church, etc.

The centers provide activities as simple as a bus ride to get ice cream, or spending the night camping at a scout camp, pizza parties, movies, train rides, shopping trips, etc.

You can visit your child any time, or bring them home for Christmas, Thanksgiving or during the summer.

Even in the Olmstead decision it is written, “Some individuals are not prepared for the risks and exposures of the less protective community.”

Minerva Gordon

Martinsburg

(The writer is the secretary of the parents association of the Ebensburg Center.)

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