One of the ongoing stories during the recent October Fires was the pilgrimage undertaken by the residents of the Sonoma Developmental Center, or SDC. Its Eldridge campus was in the path of the Nuns Fire early on Monday, Oct. 9, threatening not only the 112-year old campus but the remaining 241 residents, many of whom have lived at SDC for years, if not decades… Read More.
October 19, 2017.
This report was sent out to the members and friends of the Parent Hospital Association (PHA) and tells the incredible story of how the state safely moved all the resident and staff of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) to the Dixon Fairgrounds.
Dear PHA families and friends:
Kathleen Miller and I are touching base to let you know that all appears well at the SDC Village that has been set up at the Dixon Fairgrounds. During our visit yesterday, we were amazed to see how comfortable our loved ones are, what care has been taken to ensure their physical, mental and spiritual health, the safety systems that are in place and to experience the calm and positive the atmosphere that has been created.
All of the nursing facility residents are together in their own area and each has his/her own bed, wheel chair and other special equipment that was transported last week from his/her room at SDC thanks to the National Guard. Staff is on duty and working hard to ensure that our loved ones have the care that is required. Other residents are enjoying their regularly scheduled meals, donations from the community, field trips, concerts, outdoor movie nights and other recreational activities.
Large FEMA-style tents have been erected to create an activity room, staff rest area, and storage for all extra equipment and supplies. Portable ADA compliant showers have been set up and the kitchen is producing all normal meals in accordance with dietary needs. The SDC pharmacy has been relocated to the Fairgrounds and all the regular medications are available and administered on schedule; the SDC physicians and nurses from the units are on duty and making their regular rounds. Normal schedules are being maintained including the administration of routine flu shots for staff and residents.
The atmosphere was one of normalcy with hint of a grand adventure. There is one entrance and only staff and family members with appropriate identification are allowed into the SDC Village. Security is provided by police and National Guard units. National Guard units continue to provide all security and guard services back at SDC to ensure that all remains as it was left on October 9th.
Kathleen and I were both very impressed by what we saw and with the people we talked with yesterday. Sadly, we did learn that some staff have lost homes or are also evacuated from their own homes; some are able to stay at the Fairgrounds in their own evacuee tents when off duty. But in spite of all that the staff is going through with long hours and extended commutes, they continue to make certain that our family members are doing well and enjoying themselves in spite of being in new surroundings and experiencing new routines. The air quality was much less of an issue than in areas much closer to the fires. Nancy Bargmann, Director of the Department of Developmental Disabilities, is on site daily and the personal and political support of the Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary Diana Dooley has been critical to the success of not one but two evacuations and the stabilization and care of our family members.
Kathleen and I would also like to commend the staff that were responsible for the efficient and thorough evacuation of SDC in the early morning of Monday, October 9th. We were told that their adherence to the evacuation plan, their quick and calm responses and the way in which units were left in order were truly remarkable and were commented upon by the emergency services inspection team who came to officially confirm that SDC was fully evacuated. We would also like to thank the out of area first responders who arrived to help with the evacuation of the last two units.
I also want to say that after seeing my own daughter at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Sonoma last Tuesday and after seeing everyone at the Dixon Fairgrounds yesterday, I am confident that it is safe and appropriate to continue to work with our Regional Center and SDC staff to implement our original transition planning process/ timeline and I don’t feel the need to accelerate my daughter’s placement process. I look forward to the return to SDC and a return to normal schedules and activities when it is deemed safe and appropriate to return.
At this time, the next general PHA meeting is scheduled for the second Saturday in November and will be in the Slater Building at SDC. Please watch for information about the November PHA meeting and about the Sonoma Town Hall meeting which will address future land use issues at SDC.
All our best,
September 26, 2016:
Senator Mike McGuire has spent the past two years working with the state and local officials, families, residents, staff and providers to ensure a safe and seamless transition for the nearly 400 medically fragile residents who call the Sonoma Developmental Center their home.
SB 982 will be an important tool to track a minimum of 250 residents for two consecutive years starting from the time they leave their developmental center. It will assure that the State is providing the services needed for residents to thrive within the community.
“This new tracking study will hold the state accountable and bring needed transparency to the transition process. We’re at a defining moment for our state as major changes are made to the system of care for California’s developmentally disabled residents,” Senator McGuire said. “We have to ensure that as Developmental Centers are slated for closure, we are closely monitoring the health and well-being of residents so that immediate steps can be taken during this transition if appropriate services and housing are not being provided.”
Read more at the link below.
Provided courtesy of the Eureka Times-Standard.
August 2, 2016:
As reported in our last blog post of June 14th (State Budget Framework For Sonoma Developmental Center Closure Finalized):
“DDS and the Legislature are very focused on how to expand and improve community services to absorb residents moving from SDC and other developmental centers that are closing in California. There have been no major breakthroughs yet in terms of an agreement for continuing services on site, but our state legislators, Supervisor Gorin, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services and the Transform SDC Coalition will continue to push for the vision of a health resource center on the SDC campus.”
One of the arguments that DDS and the state have made against any planning for continued health care services on the SDC campus beyond the closure date of December 2018 is that the property’s infrastructure is degraded, and the state needs to conduct a full site assessment before even considering any specific reuse proposals.
Long-awaited funding for comprehensive planning has been approved, and we are about to enter a new much more active phase in the SDC closure process. The Transform SDC Coalition will be planning a Fall 2016 Workshop to prepare for the site assessment and reuse alternatives planning process. We will provide more information by the end of August.
State of California Seeking Consultants to Conduct SDC Site Assessment and Develop Reuse Alternatives
As part of the FY 2016-2017 budget signed into law by Governor Brown in June, the Department of General Services received $2.2 million to fund the preparation of a detailed site assessment for the property, and:
“to create conceptual master land use and facilities reuse plan alternatives that will take into consideration physical, environmental, political and governmental factors that may impact the reuse of…SDC.”
On July 8th, the state Department of General Services issued a “Request for Qualifications” (RFQ) for licensed architectural and engineering firms to provide a scope of work and cost estimates for:
“professional architectural, engineering, and master land use planning and consulting services…to develop conceptual master land use and facilities reuse plan alternatives for SDC.”
We have attached a copy of the RFQ at the bottom of this post. The deadline for firms to submit their Statement of Qualifications is September 7th. DGS will then interview a select number of applicants, and will hire a firm to start work in early 2017. One of the most important credentials for any firm that is hired is their ability to work with our local community to identify alternative reuse options for SDC that are consistent with the vision for the property. We are putting the word out to consulting firms that we have worked with—and that have worked on large-scale land use planning projects—to make sure they are aware of the opportunity. We welcome your feedback and ideas for good candidates as well!
What are the state’s goals for the future of SDC? Can the state hire a team of professionals who can lead an inclusive community planning effort for the future of SDC that achieves our stated vision for the property? It’s worth repeating the vision statement we developed through our community engagement process with all of you last year:
Create a public-private partnership driven by community ideas and values that showcases the site’s history, maintains critical services for the developmentally disabled, provides opportunities for creative reuse of SDC’s assets, and preserves the natural resources and open space of the site.
There is reasons for hope that the state is very interested in working with the SDC Coalition and the County to develop a set of alternative uses for the property that are a positive outcome for the Valley, and for the entire region. The RFQ issued by the state says that:
“The purpose of the plans is to assist the state, County of Sonoma and stakeholders in identifying alternative reuse options for the SDC. The conceptual plans shall give consideration to alternatives that diversify and enhance the Sonoma Valley’s economy and establish models for sustainable development and economic self-sufficiency; preserve the distinct character of the Sonoma Valley’s rural communities and SDC’s natural, historical, and architectural integrity; and, protect SDC’s open space, valuable natural and scenic resources to support healthy wildlife populations, water resources, and recreational opportunities.”
Sonoma County Department of Health Services Issues Request for Proposals for Federally Qualified Health Center for Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled Individuals.
The County of Sonoma has been an incredible partner over the past few years as we all have tried to grapple with the closure of SDC. The leadership of Susan Gorin has been matched by the skills and dedication of numerous county agencies that have put in hundreds of staff hours on this effort. The impact of the closure of SDC on Sonoma County is very significant. The economic disruption of the closure of SDC has yet to be felt, but the potential loss of over 1000 jobs and the success of placing over 300 current residents in community homes is a local and regional priority for County government.
Under the leadership of Director Stephan Betz, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services has adopted a proactive and visionary approach to the future of SDC. Making sure that the 300+ current residents end up in good living arrangements coupled with convenient and appropriate medical care is everyone’s top priority right now. But there is a larger opportunity: establishing a new regional health care facility for people with developmental challenges that is uniquely designed to serve their needs. In response to this need, the Department recently issued a Request for Proposals for a “Federally Qualified Health Center for Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled Individuals.” The Department is soliciting proposals:
“from interested providers outlining their proposed approach to provide medical, dental and behavioral health services to former SDC residents, current clients of the North Bay Regional Center (NRBC) and other regional centers, as well as other intellectually and developmentally disabled (I/DD) individuals residing in Sonoma County and surrounding communities beginning in 2018.”
You are going to be hearing a lot about “FQHC’s” in the months to come, so get used to the acronym! FQHCs are outpatient clinics that qualify for specific reimbursement systems under Medicare and Medicaid. You may get your own out-patient health care at an existing Sonoma County FQHC such as the Santa Rosa or Sonoma Valley Community Health Centers. The County has a strong interest in developing partnerships with FQHCs as the SDC approaches closure to meet the needs of the former SDC residents, clients of regional centers and other individuals. Additionally, FQHCs are uniquely positioned to utilize enhanced Medi-Cal payments.
The deadline for submittals for the County’s RFQ process is August 26th. We will report back on what sort of applications the County receives, and next steps. The RFQ is also attached at the end of this post.
July 1, 2016:
An excerpt from a conversation with North Bay Regional Center Director Bob Hamilton:
From the day they learned that Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) was to be shuttered, the parents and loved ones of those who live there have been anguished over what will happen to their charges. They have made it abundantly clear that they do not expect SDC residents to receive the same level of care they have enjoyed at the 125-year-old institution situated on a thousand acres of lush Sonoma countryside outside of Glen Ellen.
“Some people think we are the devil,” Bob Hamilton said, smiling but semi-serious. Hamilton is executive director of the North Bay Regional Center, one of California’s 21 privately run regional centers responsible for administering care to the vast majority of developmentally disabled people in the state.
Hamilton, a Kenwood resident for many years, is past retirement age but continues to put in well over 40 hours a week doing his job, which he is passionate about.
“This is a joy, a labor of love. I would not do it otherwise.”
Read more at the link below.
Provided courtesy of The Kenwood Press, by Jay Gamel.
June 14, 2016:
For the past several months, the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center has been a major topic of discussion in Sacramento as part of the state’s annual budget process. The state fiscal year runs from July 1st-June 30th, and the Legislature is set to vote this Wednesday on a $122 billion budget framework for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 that includes a number of important provisions related to the closure of SDC.
In October of last year, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) released their “Plan for the Closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center.” In order for the Plan to become effective, it requires Legislative approval. Since the Legislature returned in January, there have been numerous budget hearings and a special oversight hearing co-chaired by Senator Mike McGuire on the state’s plan to close SDC by the end of 2018. In addition to formal legislative hearings, DDS has also initiated a dialogue with the Transform SDC Coalition that has resulted in a series of facilitated conversations about key issues connected with the closure of the Center. Major topics of discussion include:
- State staffing: How can SDC retain essential health care personnel over the next few years as the Center closes, and staff start to leave for either retirement or other job opportunities? Also, how can the state create financial incentives for SDC staff to transition to working in community care facilities where their expertise is needed?
- Availability of adequate community care services: How are DDS and regional centers—California’s network of 21 independent, non-profit regional centers that coordinate services for California’s over 280,000 people with developmental disabilities—going to ensure that SDC residents leaving SDC will receive “appropriate services and support” as required by the Closure Plan? This includes housing suited to each person’s particular needs, and an array of specialized health care services.
- Health Care Services on the SDC Site: Will DDS support retention or expansion of care services for people with developmental disabilities on the SDC campus after closure? Concepts include an integrated health care center providing outpatient services, an acute crisis clinic to help stabilize individuals who have reached a crisis point in their community setting due to severe behavioral and/or psychiatric conditions, and a “placement center of last resort” to provide housing for those individuals who simply cannot succeed in community care settings.
- Site Planning: What are the state’s plans for SDC after closure? The Department of General Services (DGS) has requested $2.2 million in the FY 2016-2017 state budget for a site assessment (i.e. historical, architectural, environmental, engineering and economic) and to conduct “master planning” and an analysis of reuse alternatives for the property.
Federal Government Terminates ICF Funding
As we have known for many months, the state is committed to closing SDC by the end of 2018. One of the major reasons for the expedited closure timeline is the federal government’s termination of funding for SDC residential units that serve clients with intellectual and behavioral disabilities due to repeated findings of violations in care standards. Under threat of a complete withdrawal of federal funding for these “Intermediate Care Facility” (ICF) units, DDS entered into a settlement agreement last year with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that established the December 2018 closure date. Matters were made worse in February of this year when CMS found additional violations during inspection of care units. On May 13th, CMS announced a termination of federal financial support effective June 30, 2016, resulting in a loss of approximately $26 million in annual funding. In response to this withdrawal of funding, the Legislature approved an additional $32.4 million in General Fund expenditures to ensure continued operation of the ICF units.
Summary of State Budget and Policy Decisions
As part of the budget process, the Legislature develops “trailer bills” that contain specific funding and policy directives for different agencies. This year’s trailer bill that addresses SDC closure and DDS oversight of community care services is SB 834. In summary, the legislation will require the following:
- Requires DDS to include an update as part of next year’s budget of how they will ensure access to crisis services after a DC closure, and how the state will maintain its role in providing residential services to those whom private sector vendors cannot or will not serve.
- Requires DDS to post on its Web site a monthly progress report regarding the development of residential capacity by each regional center.
- Requires DDS and DHCS to coordinate the transition of health care services for Medi-Cal eligible consumers transitioning from a DC.
- Requires DDS to develop and implement a plan to monitor, evaluate, and improve the quality of community-based services through the use of a “performance dashboard.” Requires DDS to work with stakeholders on the development of the dashboard.
- Prohibits residential care homes from using physical restraints or containment for more than 15 consecutive minutes.
- Requires regional center vendors that provide crisis or residential services to report on a monthly basis their use of seclusion, restraints and involuntary emergency medication to control a client’s behavior.
- Authorizes DC employees to become regional center vendors prior to termination of their state employment with a goal of encouraging well-trained and experienced DC employees to become community service providers and assist with continuity of care.
What Happens Now?
At this point, DDS and the Legislature are very focused on how to expand and improve community services to absorb residents moving from SDC and other developmental centers that are closing in California. There have been no major breakthroughs yet in terms of an agreement for continuing services on site, but Supervisor Gorin, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services and the Transform SDC Coalition will continue to push for the vision of a health resource center on the SDC campus (See April 14th blog post). The Northern STAR Acute Crisis Center will be funded for at least another year, so that provides some hope that we can work with the state to retain at least some health care services on the campus.
In addition, our facilitated dialogue with DDS will next take up the issue of a “placement center of last resort.” This concept was first acknowledged in the January 2014 DC Task Force Report issued by DDS and Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley. The Report stated that “there must be a “placement of last resort” for individuals with significantly challenging behaviors. Consumers in crisis must always have a place to go when in need.” We are pushing for SDC to be the location for this type of facility.
Finally, the Department of General Services (DGS) will be expanding their site assessment of the SDC campus starting in early 2017. They are currently funding a historical resource assessment of the SDC buildings, and a “Phase 1” environmental assessment that looks at potential hazardous and toxic materials located on the SDC property. DGS has informed us that they intend to issue a request for proposals to qualified consulting firms to conduct the comprehensive site assessment in late 2016, with a goal of having a firm under contract by early 2017. We will report more about the site assessment process in a future blog post.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about where things stand with SDC. You can email either Samantha Thomas (Samantha@sonomalandtrust.org) or John McCaull (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will be happy to get back to you with more information.
May 26, 2016:
“The state is going to have to pick up the cost that was once being born by the feds, because we can’t jeopardize the livelihoods of residents just because the feds have decided to pull the plug on funding,” McGuire said.
The senator said the funding problems are not reason to hasten the facility’s closure. He called the current three-year timeline “hogwash,” saying it will take longer for the state to figure out how to care for some of the state’s most medically fragile people without comprising their well-being.
Please click on the link provided below to read more.
Provided courtesy of The Press Democrat by Derek Moore.
May 3, 2016:
The decision to close the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), as well as the rest of the state’s centers for the developmentally disabled, poses three large questions: what to do with the extremely medically fragile clients living there now; what to do with the highly trained staff who take care of them; and what to do with the incredibly valuable open space that surrounds the campus.
A coalition of government and nonprofit organizations have gotten out in front of state agencies, proposing a plan to…
To read more on this article that looks at answers for SDC after closure, please click on the link provided below.
Provided courtesy of The Kenwood Press, by Jay Gamel.
April 14, 2016:
The community vision for the future of the Sonoma Development Center (SDC) is rooted in the Center’s legacy of care for people with developmental disabilities. The state’s plan for closing the facility by 2018 as a residential care hospital has left hundreds of families struggling with life-changing decisions about where to move loved ones, and where to find adequate health care services outside of SDC.
The SDC Closure Plan promised that no residents will be moved from SDC “until appropriate services and supports identified in their Individual Program Plan (IPP) are available in the community.” For decades SDC has provided a completely integrated care model for its residents. The stark reality is that there is a vast gap in the type and extent of “appropriate services” currently provided by SDC versus those available in the community care system.
Since the formation of the SDC Coalition, Supervisor Susan Gorin and Sonoma County have provided outstanding leadership to our community, and multiple county agencies have dedicated significant staff time to the Transform SDC Project. In particular the Sonoma County Department of Health Services has taken the lead in developing a ground-breaking concept for a new service model that is community-based; developed through public-private partnerships; and is able to serve as a regional-hub providing high quality health care services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
After several months of research and discussion with key stakeholders, the SDC Coalition is pleased to announce the release of a proposal for the creation of a “Health Disability Resource Center” that would ideally be located on the SDC campus. As the proposal states:
“The overriding priority of the State, the County, the SDC Coalition, and the guardians and families of those who live at SDC is the health and well-being the SDC residents. Ensuring a system of care is in place to care for SDC residents as they are transitioned into the community is a commitment that is articulated throughout the State’s Closure Plan, unanimously voiced at every public meeting, steadfastly supported by the County and SDC Coalition, and most importantly, is a commitment we all share. The development of a Health Disability Resource Center does not run counter to this commitment, but supports it – designed to ensure that before those who have been cared for most of their lives in a state-run facility, will be cared for when they move into the community. By following this strategic plan, together we can build a Health Disability Resource Center that will support and serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
The Health Disability Resource Center concept is forming the basis of our advocacy efforts in Sacramento for 2016, and we will continue to provide briefings on the progress of this effort in the coming months as the Legislature makes a final decision on approving the SDC Closure Plan, and approving budget appropriations to implement the Plan.
Additional information on the Health Disability Resource Center provided below.
SDC Transition Plan – Health Disability Resource Center Summary
SDC Transition Plan – Health Disability Resource Center
March 10, 2016:
The final countdown has begun for the last of three large state-run institutions that care for the severely disabled: In less than six years, almost all of their residents are likely to be transferred to other settings.
It’s the end of a long era in providing care to people in large institutional settings.
The public comment period ended last week on a plan to move 776 patients currently housed at the three development centers into smaller community-based homes. The state expects the move to save it roughly $250 million a year.
Please click on the link provided below to read more of this article.
Provided courtesy of KQED News website, by David Gorn at California Healthline.
This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.