Closing Development Center would hurt clients and community

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To the editor:

The Woodbine Developmental Center has been a subject of a phase-out talk this past year. With the state budget crisis, it seems an easy target for our state lawmakers and executives for needed budget cuts.

However, as a health care provider working in this facility, I would like to call attention to the enormous health promotion issues involved if this institution closes.

Moving the residents to the outside community is, indeed, a federal law. But as in many laws of the land, this is not binding to everyone. The reality is, not all of the residents of the facility can live in the world outside the gates of the center. Sen. Jeff Van Drew stated in 2009 “before New Jersey begins dismantling the developmental center model, we need to make sure that we’re adequately addressing the need of the developmentally-disabled population.”

Most of these residents need close supervision on a daily basis to assist them with the activities of daily living, including the simple tasks of bathing, feeding, and getting out of bed in the morning to their wheelchairs. To most of them, a daily dose of medications is necessary to go through life for their chronic seizures, cardiac ailments, respiratory insufficiencies, and psychological illnesses.

The Woodbine Developmental Center has adequately met clients’ medical and psychological needs at this moment by providing a wide range of services through an interdisciplinary approach. The transfer of residents to the outside community without these basic necessities will pose a serious health hazard not only to the individuals but to the community as a whole.

The community outside of the center will also feel the impact of a phase-out not only from an economic perspective but also from the health maintenance aspect. Increasing unemployment numbers would directly affect workers’ family health promotional needs. Health insurance for these families will be stopped, affecting the family’s medical care. Unemployment will mean empty dining tables for an enormous number of families. Health promotion benefits will be severely impacted.


Nadia Molodykh

Cape May Court House

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