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Home » Informative Articles & Documents » Our children need their home away from home

Informative Links About the Victims of the Rolland Lawsuit Facing Life Threatening De-institutionalization

Our children need their home away from home

Boston Globe 7/21/2008

Families ought to be part of decision-making
AS NOTED in Kevin Cullen's column ("Making the wrong move," City & Region, June 30), Seven Hills Pediatric Center is one of four pediatric-skilled nursing facilities in Massachusetts that cares for children and younger adults with profound intellectual and developmental disabilities with very complex medical needs.

Seven Hills is unique in that it offers clinically and technologically advanced services in a home-like environment for those who require ongoing intensive medical and nursing supports. Many of the individuals who reside there are technology dependent, requiring ventilator support, tracheostomies, feeding tubes, and other intensive medical therapies. This environment fosters dignity and respect to the residents and their families, with staff who are committed to providing excellent and individualized medical, nursing, and educational care.

As a result of a class-action lawsuit (Rolland v. Patrick), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Department of Mental Retardation plan to move many of these young people to other settings, a plan that occurred without prior knowledge or approval of their parents and/or legal guardians. Certainly, the ideal is for people with disabilities to reside with their families and/or within the community. However, there needs to be adequate infrastructural support to assure the well-being and safety for all, particularly those who are technology dependent and require multiple medical therapies throughout each day. One needs to trust that families who love and care for their children are acting in their best interest and should play a primary role in the decision-making process when it comes to a change in the setting in which their children reside.

Medical Director
Seven Hills Pediatric Center

State's plan risks medical needs
AFTER MANY weeks of living in sleepless desperation after learning of the state's plan to move most of our profoundly retarded and medically fragile adult children out of the Seven Hills Pediatric Center (formerly Children's Extended Care Center) at Groton, my own and the other families concerned have finally seen a ray of hope in the compassionate column by Kevin Cullen. What we need now is for the public and the Legislature to ask the Department of Mental Retardation to face the facts regarding our children's real needs and the superb care they are receiving, instead of sentencing them to early deaths in the name of an ideology (the group home movement) carried beyond reasonable application, or worse still in order to put more money into the pockets of the service vendors and real estate developers.


Unfair to assume smaller community will benefit all
THE ARTICLE "Making the wrong move" by Kevin Cullen fully captured the sense of anxiety and worry induced by the state on many of the parents and guardians of severely disabled young adults. I have a 24-year-old son, Andrew, who has not just lived, but also thrived, at Seven Hills at Groton Pediatric Center for the last 4 1/2 years. After a year long search for a nursing home that would provide the numerous medical, physical, and occupational therapies that he needs, we chose Seven Hills as the best nursing facility for our severely brain injured son. Our family has never regretted that decision. However, the Department of Mental Retardation, under the terms of the Rolland v. Patrick settlement agreement, is operating under the assumption that smaller community group homes are the preferred course of treatment for all mentally challenged adults.

This is a ridiculously unfair assumption, and I, along with many other members of the Seven Hills at Groton Pediatric Center parents, guardians, and medical community will vigorously fight to keep our severely challenged sons and daughters in the safe, caring, and state-of-the-art medical facility that we chose to be most appropriate for their many needs.


Progress is not made by uprooting patients
A BIG thank you to columnist Kevin Cullen for portraying one family's quest to have their son remain at his longtime "home away from home," the Seven Hills nursing facility in Groton. A large group of residents at Seven Hills has been included, without their guardians' consent, in the Rolland v. Patrick class-action lawsuit settlement against the Department of Mental Retardation.

These families chose Seven Hills specifically because of its excellent reputation and services. Their children require a level of medical care that is impossible to duplicate in the group home system, and these young people receive nurturing care from longtime employees.

Now political correctness has run amok in the Department of Mental Retardation, and while so many wait for residential services, the agency takes people who are already appropriately placed and tries to force them into group homes, where they will inevitably receive lower quality services from staff who may work there for only a year or two. This is progress?

This lawsuit was well intentioned, but it has become a numbers game. The Department of Mental Retardation is forced by the court to place a certain number of residents into group homes each year. How simple just to take a bunch from one place at Seven Hills? DMR, the courts, and Governor Patrick owe these vulnerable people better. They owe them a thoughtful, individualized choice for their children.


Cost effective? Yes, but families and patients pay the price
KEVIN CULLEN'S June 30 column "Making the wrong move" sensitively portrays a family's anguish over the state's unilateral decision to move their son, who has mental retardation, from his longtime home. Just as longtime residents of the Fernald Developmental Center have received excellent care there, Ed and Margaret Braga's son, David, who also has cystic fibrosis, has received excellent care at the Seven Hills Pediatric Center in Groton. The Seven Hills facility, which was founded by Children's Hospital, literally saved his life. Yet, just as it has done with the state-run Fernald Center, the Department of Mental Retardation has made a decision over the objections of family members and clinicians to transfer David Braga and other residents out of Seven Hills and move them to smaller group residences. In both of these cases, DMR has shown little concern for the best interests of its key stakeholders - its clients with mental retardation and their families. What DMR does appear to be interested in is providing a minimal amount of statutorily mandated care in the cheapest possible way to its clients by placing them in settings with lower-paid and less well-trained staff. We recognize that DMR and other state agencies are dealing with growing caseloads and tight budgets. It is a daunting situation, but there are better ways to proceed.

What is needed is a sincere attempt on the part of DMR to reach out to those most affected by its facility-closure policies, a reputable cost/benefit analysis of its closure policies and the development, with the input of all stakeholders, of a comprehensive plan for the future care for all residents in the commonwealth with mental retardation.

The Fernald League for the Retarded

Caring Seven Hills staff met son's needs
I WAS touched yet saddened by Kevin Cullen's recent article revealing the plight of the Braga family. My son too, is facing the same fate. For years I have overseen my son's care which included many years at home.

During all of these years there have been countless visits to doctors and hospitalizations at Children's Hospital, Boston, where we worked to solve and treat his many complex health issues. His medical needs have been carefully maintained by the professional and caring staff at Seven Hills at Groton for the last 6 1/2 years. I cannot envision his survival outside of this facility, where not only are his medical needs met on a daily basis, but his emotional and social well-being as well.


What this case really says about society
IN RESPONSE to Kevin Cullen's column, it is ironic that the Department of Mental Retardation's attempt to protect those who cannot defend themselves is putting the same population in jeopardy. A "clean sweep" class action for the voiceless, although well intended, is destructive at the same time. This case is a pure reflection on what progress we, as social beings, are making. Hence, the survival and undoing of itself, all at the same time. The battle will rage on, therefore, we must all hope there will be grace and kindness when we needed it most.

Online Boston Globe Version Can Be Viewed Here

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* These pages constitute a repository of recent historical information and no longer concern an active suit.