On March 9th, 2019, PHA hosted its Annual Legislative Meeting at the Hanna Boy’s Center in Sonoma. Legislative leaders attending the event include Sen. Mike McGuire, Assembly Member Marc Levine, and Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin. Also attending was Ms. Nancy Bargemann, Director of the Department of Developmental Services.
The speakers had an opportunity to discuss their thoughts about the closure and their vision for moving forward now that the last resident has left Sonoma Developmental Center. Speaking on behalf of the new Health Center in Santa Rosa, Dr. Anne French was able to provide an update about new services, including dentistry that are being added to clinic services. PHA President Kathleen Miller served as the panel moderator and meeting facilitator.
Many members of the audience commended SDC staff and service providers for making the final moves go smoothly and many families reported good outcomes to date.
However, issues were also raised by PHA members present including concerns for consistency of services going forward, expansion of model programs to other counties (such as the Santa Rosa Health Center, chaplaincy services for individuals with developmental disabilities who have severe behavior issues, and mental health services modeled after the Puente Clinic in San Mateo County).
Also noted were issues related to the lack of employment or meaningful work opportunities, the need to expand recreational opportunities including the strong recommendation to have a regional outdoor recreation option developed at Camp Via, and the ongoing need to expand appropriate medical and dental services including both sedation and anesthesia dental services.
There were also questions raised about the death data study and whether or not there are lessons to be learned that would be helpful to home/facility care providers and physical/mental health care providers in treating clients in the future. Members present felt it important to have full disclosure of the reasons for the spike in deaths during the closure period including the marked increase in deaths following the wild fires. The state legislators present indicated that they would be following the study and offered any help they might provide.
Approximately fifty people attended the Annual Meeting including representatives from local regional centers. We plan to continue the Annual Legislative Meeting tradition in March 2020.
Photos from the meeting have been contributed courtesy of PHA member Christian Pease and are available at https://photos.light11b.com/p416533609 The password is PHA (case sensitive).