Rally to save Developmental Center

Posted on September 3, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

To show public support for keeping the Sonoma Developmental Center open, the SDC Parent Hospital Association will hold a march and rally Saturday, September 14 on Sonoma Plaza from noon to 1 p.m.

“The march and rally are a way for families of SDC clients and our supporters to express how tragic it would be if the state were to close SDC,” said event organizer Mary O’Riordan.

The state has been reducing the populations at its four remaining developmental centers by moving clients into community care homes, O’Riordan said, and yet not all developmentally disabled people can function in that setting.

O’Riordan’s son lived at SDC for 20 years, until he passed away two years ago. She believes he received excellent care, the level of which could not have been matched in a community care home.

“The SDC has the expertise, professionally trained staff, and specific services needed to care for California’s most frail and severely developmentally disabled residents,” she said.

O’Riordan is the past president of The Parent Hospital Association, which advocates for residents of SDC and others with developmental disabilities in Northern California

“I have heard from so many heartbroken parents whose developmentally disabled children ended up in jail, because their community care home could not handle their challenging and dangerous behaviors,” O’Rioran said. “Developmental centers provide the safety net for those whose emotional, mental and behavioral issues, or medical frailty, make them inappropriate for community homes.”

The Sonoma Developmental Center, also known as the town of Eldridge, has been in operation for 122 years. Over the last several years it has gone from a patient population of 2,000 to less than 500. It has 1,200 employees.

The September 14 march around the Sonoma Plaza begins at noon in front of city hall and ends in the Plaza amphitheater for a rally featuring speeches by parents. Sonoma Mayor Ken Brown will also read a city council resolution in support of keeping SDC open.