PEF President Susan M. Kent spoke to Susan Arbetter on Capitol Pressroom about quality care and staff needs, specifically at OPWDD’s Sunmount facility in the Adirondacks.
The state Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has announced its plan to reduce the number of inpatient beds at the Sunmount Residential Home in Tuppper Lake by one-third. Currently, the facility that treats a high-needs population, including those who have forensic issue, cares for 161 clients. OPWDD’s plan is to decrease that number to 105.
PEF President Susan M. Kent immediately addressed this issue when it became public last week by saying OPWDD has not included the union or community in its plan.
“This is more than downsizing by the state,” Kent said. “Safeguards are being taken away and that leads to erosion of quality care and staffing levels. Right now, the staffing levels at Sunmount are inadequate. The state needs to do three things. OPWDD should oversee and ensure that the services are provided to that population which it serves, and not place those individuals in homes run by private groups. Studies have shown that the quality of care in privatized-treatment homes is greatly diminished.
“The state also needs to address staffing levels and should make an effort to include the input from the professionals who work with these individuals on a daily basis. Labor needs to be involved. And lastly, OPWDD recognized the value in continued training, but it should be doing training at the facilities, and not just in Albany. PEF will continue to monitor what is happening at Sunmount and take appropriate action.”