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.
Sonoma County fires
Update on Evacuation of Sonoma Developmental Center
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,