January 4, 2019
VOR Weekly News Update
VOR is a national organization that advocates for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals with developmental disabilities

Thank You!

To all who joined, renewed, gave gift memberships, and donated to VOR during our Fall/Winter campaign, we would like to express our gratitude for your generosity and your faith in our mission.

Your support helps improve the lives of thousands of individuals with
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

The Winter 2018 Color Edition of the VOR Voice
is available on our website at:

National News:
The 116th Congress

On Wednesday, January 3rd, the 116th Congress swore in its members and began its term, despite the fact that many government offices are currently closed over unresolved budgetary conflicts between the President and the 115th Congress.

We hope that once these issues are resolved, the House and Senate will find a way to work together to improve all levels of care for all individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. We are hopeful that the increased presence of women on Capitol Hill will help to change the direction of I/DD policy and open it to increased choice and support for a full continuum of care, We hope the new congress will increase funding for I/DD services, and help people on waiting lists access the residential care of their choice. We hope that the agencies and committees that are responsible for protecting our loved ones with I/DD will be held accountable by this congress, and that incidents of abuse and neglect will decrease through such accountability. We hope that the Direct Support Professionals will be valued for the quality of the services they provide and compensated accordingly, and we hope that all levels of work, from sheltered workshops paying commensurate wages to competitive, integrated employment, will be supported.

We ask our members to get to know your members of congress. Contact them in their district offices and email their health staff in their D.C. offices. Make appointments. Educate them, and ask them to use the power of their elected office to help those who need it most. This is a moment of opportunity for us, and we must act quickly to enlist their support.
State News:
California - Sonoma Developmental Center Quietly Closes Its Doors
By Lorna Sheridan, Sonoma Index-Tribune, December 31, 2018
The Sonoma Developmental Center – the oldest facility in California established specifically for serving the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities - officially closed its doors today after 127 years.

The Developmental Center – known for generations simply as SDC – was ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015 to begin a three-year closure process, with an official shuttering date of Dec. 31, 2018. SDC had at its peak been home to more than 3,000 residents; its final clients left the Eldridge campus in mid-December, according to officials at the state Department of Developmental Services.

First known as the California Home for the Care and Training of Feeble Minded Children, the center opened at its current location in Eldridge on
Nov. 24, 1891, though it had existed at previous locations in Vallejo and Santa Clara since 1884.
The center was also known as Sonoma State Home and Sonoma State Hospital before being renamed Sonoma Developmental Center in 1986.

Sixty years ago, SDC was a vibrant campus operating at its maximum capacity with 3,200 residents, many of them children, with a waiting list of more than 1,000. SDC’s staff at one point numbered 1,300; until about a year ago the facility was still the largest employer in the Valley.

New Jersey - Missing Developmentally Disabled Man Found Dead
By Lynda Cohen, Breaking AC, December 28, 2018
A developmentally disabled man who disappeared from a day program in Vineland more than two weeks ago was found dead Wednesday, police said.

While the death is being investigated, the group manager of the Mays Landing home where Robert Nicholson IV lived blames negligence.

Nicholson, 28, left the facility Dec. 10. A landscaper found his body Wednesday, near a retention pond at 3001 E. Chestnut Ave., across from Vineland’s high schools.

It was only Nicholson’s second day at the facility, where he was supposed to be a “line of sight” patient, meaning he is to be supervised at all times, said Heather Grosso, his house manager.
Grosso said she and two others spent every day searching for Nicholson, handing out flyers to cabdrivers and others, hoping to find him.

As they drove looking for him at about 2 one morning, driving 25 mph and yelling his name, police stopped them for “driving suspiciously,” she said. When she told them about the missing man, they were unaware.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Human Services, which NJ REM is a provider for, would not comment on specifics but said that, in general, a thorough investigation would be completed.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of Mr. Nicholson’s passing and send our condolences to his family and friends,” communications director Tom Hester told BreakingAC. “We are prohibited from discussing individual situations, but generally the department would conduct a thorough and complete investigation and work with law enforcement authorities as well. The health and safety of individuals with disabilities is a top department priority.”

While Nicholson was reported missing at 1:30 p.m., Grosso said she received a call after Nicholson’s body was found that he had been missing since at least 12:30 p.m., and that he had been unsupervised in the cafeteria.

No one associated with the REM program returned calls seeking comment.

Nicholson was pronounced dead at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday.

Washington - Shelton Hospital Frustrated after State Leaves Client for More Than 2 Weeks
By Elizabeth Kayser, KOMONews
December 28th, 2018
On Dec. 12, a man was brought to Mason General Hospital by a group home provider to be medically cleared before being placed in a long-term residential facility.

The hospital staff determined the man suffered from behavioral problems and was medically cleared to be re-released into state custody, according to hospital staff.

As of Dec. 28, that man is still at the hospital.

The man recently aged out of the foster care system and is a client of the Department of Human Services (DSHS) and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).

Frustrated with the situation, Doctor John Short, an emergency medicine physician at Mason General, took to the internet with a blog, Stuck in the Hospital. He wrote about this man, giving him the pseudonym "Mason."

"The original housing facility wouldn't take him because of these behaviors and they felt like they couldn't handle him, and here we sit, 16 days later with Mason still in our hospital," Short said. "DDA and the DSHS are shirking their responsibilities in regard to Mason — it’s clearly their responsibility and so clearly not our responsibility."

"This is a big deal in small hospitals like ours," said Doctor Dean Gushee, the hospital's chief medical officer.

A DSHS representative said they couldn't comment on the situation specifically. "The vast majority of clients have successful placements, Because of a lack of resources in Washington
state, some of our hardest-to-serve clients take longer to find suitable placements that can meet their very specific needs. In the governor’s most recent budget proposal, he included a wage increase for our service providers and additional funding for more residential placements, housing and respite care."

With Mason's behavioral problems, the hospital has had to go to extreme measures to care for him. Short said hospital staff has needed to restrain him at some points. Gushee and Short both mentioned 24-hour security outside his door — something the hospital has to arrange and pay for.

Gushee said hospital staff has been injured while caring for Mason.

"We've had several injuries including a nurse who was bitten last night," he said. "We've had guards punched, other people punched it, bitten. He's difficult, we understand that, it's not his fault.
Unfortunately, he's in an environment where our staff is not trained for that kind of patient."

Both Gushee and Short believe the hospital won't be reimbursed for the care Mason has received or the damage he has caused, so Mason County tax payers will end paying for Mason's unnecessary stay. Short guessed the cost somewhere between $50,000-$70,000 on Thursday.

What's Happening In Your Community?

Is there an issue in your loved one's home that you need help with?
Do you have information or a news story you would like to share?
Is there legislation in your state house that needs attention?

Contact us at [email protected]
The American Health Care Association / National Council for Assisted Living

AHCA/NCAL’s Annual Hill Fly-In Event
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

AHCA/NCAL’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD) Residential Services Providers will be in Washington, D.C., for our annual Hill Fly-In event on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

Participants will hear from Congressional speakers and others. The event runs from 8 am – 10:15 am ET. After the morning event is over, the ID/DD providers will head to Capitol Hill to discuss critical issues, including Medicaid.

If you have any questions relating to this event or would like to attend (it is free to attend for anyone interested, and breakfast and lunch are provided), please don’t hesitate to contact AHCA’s Senior Director of Not for Profit & Constituent Services,  Dana Halvorson .  

VOR's 2019

June 8 - 12, 2019
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C.

Plan now!
This will be an important year for I/DD advocacy
836 South Arlington Heights Road #351 Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
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