Published July 9, 2016 by Nan Mykel

athens disabledMy computer, my printer, my digital phone, my video camera, my internet connection, my telephone, my router, my monitor have connecting cords that easily get tangled and are often difficult to follow to their correct  position.  The secret to achieving the goal of correct, transparent even,  smooth functionality is clarity of motivation.  Both the goal needs to be clear and the motivation free of skullduggery.  If you should find yourself in the lethal hodgepodge of scrambled goals, alternating motivations, red herrings, skullduggery and outright lies, not to mention the little  hidden rat critters  chewing away at ethics in the dark recesses of the human libido and greed,  then there’s no way a democracy can survive.  Adding pet bills to important legislature is just a common referent, but by no means the whole works.

Who or what is behind privatization, for instance?  Who or what is behind the destruction of sheltered workshops for the disabled?  “They’re segregated from the normal population” is one rallying cry. Pardon my French which I’m just thinking.  “More money should be put into the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation”  so the higher functioning ones can really realize their potential” is another rallying cry.   Maybe to produce more money for charter schools? I don’t know.  Maybe it’s “cut back on government aid to the needy.”   I’m not that naive. Money and greed are winning out.  We can see what it’s doing to our prison system.

Headlines on the Feb. 11, 2016 edition of the Athens (Ohio) News  read “Board: ATCO Inc.’s days are numbered.”  ATCO (Advocacy, Training, Career, Opportunities)  has been a day service provider for people with developmental disabilities since 1969. Services include community inclusion, recreational activities, life-skills training and nursing services.  Twenty-six counties of 88 in Ohio have already been privatized.

Institutionalized residents of the Gallipolis Develpmental Center in Gallia County have been utilizing a workshop building which costs one dollar a year. It is within minutes  from GDC.  That workshop has been shuttered and plans are for residents to travel  70 miles roundtrip to a privately owned workshop in Wellston, Ohio, where untrained staff receiving lower pay will oversee the residents.  Parents were initially informed that the GDC staff who have been working with them will continue to do so.  I’m not sure how many of them have been told the truth of the situation.  About 3 weeks ago the GDC staff itself were under the impression the new workshop was going to be opened the next day. It still hasn’t opened, and last week a busload of residents were driven to see the new workshop and returned quite frustrated at its incompleted state. (In the meantime, the nearby former workshop available for a dollar a year has been closed.)

The “upfront” rationale for the change was a ruling that nonprofits receiving medicaid services couldn’t monitor their own services.  So wouldn’t it be easier to change who monitors them than to disassemble them?  Another verbalized rationale for disassembling the workshops is because they’re “segregated.”  I say UNSEGREGATE THEM!  Let any “normal” person who wants to participate, participate!  And how many of the public businesses of education and recreation are feasible for the developmenally handicapped?  Barf!  My 44 year old daughter with Downs Syndrome was born during a time when outreach services were readily available.  Athens as a community has been proud of its relationship to the developmentally disabled.

There is too much distrust and finagling  going on between our “representativces” and our front line folks,  Perhaps in a moment of guilty feelings a new law has been passed that no resident of a developmental center shall be served half meals.  As though they were protecting the residents from being mistreated by staff?  Nothing like that has been happening,  My 5 foot daughter weighed an unhealthy 203 pounds before going into GDC. Within a couple of years she had reached her goal weight of 117 pounds, and she never asked for more food on her half-size servings.  With the recent changes at the sate (and maybe federal) level she already weighs 138 pounds, and climbing.  The flavor of our representatives appears  to assume their certified, trained and dedicated staffs either don’t know what they’re doing or are taking advantage of the disadvantaged.   By assuming that the very caring long-term trained and certified staff are harming the residents, our representatives are trying to take the spotlight off their own damaging actions.  I inquired and even the physician is not allowed to order half sized meals in medical conditions.


4 comments on “DIRTY DEAL for DISABLED

  • You make many truthful, insightful observations here, Nan. So sad that state legislatures are increasingly bought and paid for by corporations. They claim they are improving services and saving taxpayer money. Actually in most cases they are simply reducing services and diverting the money to private coffers.


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