Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 25, 2008

Liberty or loss in closing Rosewood?

I applaud Dan Rodricks for his column "Intention is good, but is the policy?" (Jan. 20).

Mr. Rodricks correctly points out that Maryland currently has a 16,000-person waiting list for services for the disabled.

So where do the advocates for the disabled think that the residents of Rosewood will go when the center closes in 18 months?

Maryland has a dismal record when it comes to funding for the disabled. As Mr. Rodricks points out, it ranks 44th among U.S. states in the percentage of personal income devoted to funding for the disabled.

I fear that well-intentioned advocates for community-based housing for the disabled have brought about the abandonment of the residents of Rosewood to an overburdened system that is unable to care for our most vulnerable citizens.

James L. Spies

Hampstead

The writer is a member of the Rosewood Auxiliary, a group that represents parents and guardians of patients at the Rosewood Center.

Dan Rodricks' column about the closure of the Rosewood Center is titled "Intention is good, but is the policy?" The simple and unequivocal answer to this question is "yes."

Closing Rosewood Center is sound public policy for innumerable reasons, not least of which are the serious problems with the center's care and treatment of its residents that have been well-documented in The Sun.

People with disabilities deserve to be supported in the community, and taxpayers' dollars should not be wasted on an archaic model that has repeatedly failed the very people it was intended to serve.

Why does the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council support closing Rosewood when so many people with developmental disabilities are in need of services?

The answer lies in one critical fact: People with developmental disabilities and their families on the state's waiting list want community-based services, not institutional services.

Many of these families have spent their lives and personal funds raising their children at home and in their communities. And no matter how desperate they may be, they would never institutionalize their loved ones.

Addressing the state's developmental disabilities waiting list requires investment in community-based services, not the preservation of costly, failed facilities such as Rosewood Center.

Liz Weintraub Brian Cox

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the chairwoman and the executive director of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.

The governor's announcement that he will close the Rosewood Center was very distressing. The Maryland Classified Employees Association is very concerned for the center's residents, many of whom will not be comfortable leaving the only home and family they've known.

And we are also concerned for the state workers.

Contrary to what many state reports suggest, the overwhelming majority of patients' family members will tell you that, overall, the Rosewood staff has provided quality care and compassion, even with chronic staffing shortages, insensitive management and inadequate training and resources.

However, the move from a Development Disabilities Administration facility such as Rosewood to a mental health facility such as Spring Grove or Springfield will not be a smooth and familiar transition for many employees because the skills necessary to care for the developmentally disabled and psychiatric and forensic patients are different.

I hope that the state works diligently to find appropriate homes for the Rosewood residents, as well as for the dedicated Rosewood staff.

The direct care workers and other employees should not be kicked to the curb or laid off now that the state has finally decided Rosewood's fate.

Robert Stephens

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which represents some of the Rosewood Center's state employees.

As the parent of a child with a developmental disability, I have for several years been following the many issues surrounding the Rosewood Center. And I was deeply shocked and saddened by each story published in The Sun about the horrible conditions its residents have had to endure.

When I finally read that Gov. Martin O'Malley had issued an executive order to close Rosewood, in my home there was a collective sigh of relief.

Closing Rosewood is the right decision, no matter how hard the choice was or how much resistance some employees and families may exhibit.

Mr. O'Malley should be very proud of his decision.

It will open up amazing opportunities for people with disabilities who will now experience life in the community.

Lynne Pattison

Frederick

Thank you for the article on the closing of Rosewood and the possibilities of a productive future for its residents ("Life outside Rosewood's walls," Jan. 22).

I have followed this issue closely, as my oldest brother is a former resident of Rosewood.

My brother is profoundly mentally retarded and needs 24-hour care. He is severely disabled.

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