There are not enough hospital beds in Sonoma County to accommodate the mentally ill. For instance, Napa State Hospital is filled to capacity. And yet the hospital on Chanate in Santa Rosa was closed and the property is being sold to developers at a very low price. They plan to tear down the hospital and build homes. There is no question that homes are needed, but why can’t they be built elsewhere and then rehabilitate the hospital to provide care for the mentally ill?
The Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) is scheduled to close 12/31/18. The State has engaged a San Francisco engineering firm, at a cost of $2 million, to determine the best use for the 860-acre property — after it closes! The study will not benefit the 300 remaining developmentally disabled residents who will be evicted and whose future home remains uncertain. The State closing plan is just that, a plan. It is being closed because SDC is not economically viable as it stands now and also to comply with the Olmstead and Lanterman acts that dictate that these patients should be placed in the least-restrictive setting possible.
The current fragile population at SDC is to be moved to community homes with five or six beds each, run by one or two caregivers. These homes will need to be secured and restricted for the safety of the patients and the community, so there is no gain here. While some of the patients that have already been moved into these homes have been able to adapt, others have not. They have returned and been outplaced again and again, only to fail.
It was the hope of the Parents Hospital Association (relatives of patients living at SDC) that a residence of last resort could be maintained at SDC for those patients that cannot adapt to a small community home. These are patients that need the specialized medical care they receive at SDC. Some have developmental disabilities plus mental illness, AND physical disabilities. Some are deaf, or blind and many are bed-ridden.
Proposals have been submitted to make SDC such a center, which could also care for veterans, the homeless, the aged, autistic and addicted, many who today roam the streets or are in jail. SDC is the ideal home for long-term care where patients can heal in a restful, bucolic setting.
According to the study in progress, some of the buildings on the property can be rehabilitated. A branch of UC dedicated to the study of mental illness and related private enterprises could be compatible uses for the property and help defray expenses. The Presidio in San Francisco is a good example of a multi-purpose development
We have asked Governor Brown to please delay the closing of SDC and consider rehabilitating and expanding the facilities to help care for the present fragile residents and the hundreds of other people in need of long-term mental health care in California.
— Helen Rowntree and Marilyn Goode, Concerned Sonoma Supporters of SDC