MINERAL RIDGE, Ohio (WYTV) – Margaret Bury, president of Chapter 5040 of OSCEA (Ohio Civil Service Employees Association) at the Youngstown Developmental Center, gets emotional when she talks about the 86 residents at the Mineral Ridge facility. The center, along with one in Montgomery, is set to close no later than June 2017.
The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has seen a decline in those living in developmental centers. In the last 8 years, it’s gone from 1,600 to 900 and that is expected to drop to 800 by September.
But Bury sees another reality she believes the numbers don’t reflect. She says the clients at her facility rely on the services, but more importantly, they need the compassion in which workers there have dedicated themselves to providing.
“Where are they going to go? They are not going to get the kind of care we give them,” Bury said. “There are some clients who can survive out there. We have a lot of clients that can’t,” Bury said.
Kerry Francis, public information officer with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities said there are many options for those serviced by the center and for employees as well.
“The Youngstown community has a lot of opportunities for individuals who currently live in the centers to move into community-based settings, and a lot of opportunities for staff to find other positions within the public or private sector,” Francis said.
Residents also have the option to move into one of the state’s eight other facilities, including one about an hour away in Warrensville.
Bury said they are meeting with residents and their families to discuss the closure. One-on-one sessions will be set up where clients and their families can go through options and develop a personalized transition plan.
Bury said she wants Governor Kasich and DODD Director John Martin to reconsider the closure.
The Service Employees International Union represents 19 employees at the facility. The union has planned an informational picket and an emergency meeting on Monday, February 9 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ice House Inn, 5516 West Webb Rd., Austintown.