Ham­burg Cen­ter clo­sure is baf­fling

The Hamburg Area Item - - Imorne Ocom/ -

News pa­pers have pro­vided cov­er­age re­gard­ing the Com­mon­wealths man­dated clo­sure of the Ham­burg cen­ter. The wis­dom of re­lo­cat­ing the res­i­dents from a cen­ter which pro­vides ex­cel­lent care and of­fers an ar­ray of spe­cial­ized on site ser­vices to a com­mu­nity fa­cil­ity which does not of­fer such on site ser­vices is a bit baf­fling. Up­root­ing the res­i­dents from a fa­cil­ity they have come to know as home for the ma­jor­ity of their lives will un­doubt­edly be trau­matic. These are sub­jects which war­rant se­ri­ous de­bate and dis­cus­sion but which are be­yond the scope of what I want to ad­dress.

I am a re­tiree of the Ham­burg Cen­ter and since my re­tire­ment, I have vol­un­teered at the Cen­ter and have vis­ited with the res­i­dents. I con­tinue to be well aware of the chal­lenges fac­ing the res­i­dents and as a re­sult of my his­tory my com­ments may be viewed as bi­ased.

In the May 12th edi­tion of the Read­ing Ea­gle the ar­ti­cle re­gard­ing the Cen­ter notes that the Di- rec­tor of the Bureau of State Op­er­ated Fa­cil­i­ties as­serts that of the 78 res­i­dents liv­ing at the Cen­ter, 68 have de­cided to live in a com­mu­nity set­ting. I was flab­ber­gasted with this out­landish and un­sub­stan­ti­ated statis­tic. The vast ma­jor­ity of the res­i­dents liv­ing at the Cen­ter are un­for­tu­nately af­flicted with pro­found cog­ni­tive chal­lenges. Any­one who ac­tu­ally sat down and spoke with the res­i­dents would soon con­clude that the ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents do not un­der­stand the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the clo­sure sit­u­a­tion let alone be able to make and ex­press an in­formed de­ci­sion re­gard­ing their place­ment which con­ve­niently aligns with the Com­mon­wealth’s in­ten­tions. I se­ri­ously doubt if any em­ployee of the Ham­burg Cen­ter or oth­ers who have a close per­sonal as­so­ci­a­tion with the res­i­dents would agree with the direc­tor’s du­bi­ous sta­tis­tics.

I un­der­stand that as an agent of the Com­mon­wealth, the direc­tor is duty bound to ad­vance its in­ter­ests and agenda so with this in mind I will gen­er­ously at­tribute the direc­tor’s ex­tremely ques­tion­able sta­tis­tics to naivete, disin­gen­u­ous­ness, in­com­plete in­ves­ti­ga­tion or mis­guided as­sump­tions re­gard­ing the ac­tual wishes of the Ham­burg Cen­ter res­i­dents. While I have no doubt that the Com­mon­wealth has its rea­sons to close the Ham­burg Cen­ter, do not be mis­led into be­liev­ing that the best in­ter­ests of the clients liv­ing there are among those rea­sons.

Joe Taglieri Pottsville, PA

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