March 17, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of

STATEMENT FROM THE ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH

Partlow Costs are Double the Costs of Comparable Community Services

MONTGOMERY - Closure of the W.D. Partlow Developmental Center in Tuscaloosa is the final step in achieving a long sought after goal of enabling all persons with intellectual disabilities the right and ability to live in the community. In the community setting, services are “person centered” rather than “group oriented.” Large institutions often overlook the individual considerations and frequently give way to the needs of the group. Those living in community settings are served in one-to-three-bed fully staffed homes and are surrounded by services designed to meet their specific needs and wants. We fully understand the anxiety of some family members and we are working hard to communicate with them in every way to relay the high levels of care offered through community providers. We strive daily to offer each person and family a full array in the choice and selection of where their loved one will live and receive services in the community.

Of the remaining 151 residents at Partlow, more than 50 family members or guardians have already made application for appropriate transfer options to community services. While our stewardship of client care takes precedence over any other factors related to the decision, the department also has a fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers in providing the highest level of services in the most cost efficient manner possible. The cost per year of serving clients at Partlow is more than twice the cost of providing the same services in the community. In 2010, the department spent approximately $280,000 per person in Partlow compared to an average annual cost of approximately $110,000 per year for equivalent community services. If we can provide the same services in the community and elevate the quality of life for each individual now living at Partlow for less than half the cost, we should do so.

The closure of Partlow is the culmination of advancements made in our community system of care for persons with intellectual disabilities since the 1970s. As a result, Alabama is the first state in the south and the 12th in the nation to reach this nationally regarded achievement. Today, People First of Alabama, the largest self-advocacy organization of people with intellectual disabilities, issued the following statement in support of the closing:

There are now over 6,000 people with intellectual disabilities who live, work, and play in communities all over Alabama. Not only do these people have a better quality of life, they do so at a substantial savings to the Alabama tax payer.

Many of the members of People First of Alabama were once confined to an institution. They are now living independently in the community. With respect to their statement above…no one can say it better.

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