Dear NVTC Families and Friends,
On April 4, 2014, Governor McAuliffe signed SB 627 into law (see the law’s requirements below). We want to share with you what we think is likely to happen now, so you can make the most informed decision about placement for your loved one. Also, we would like to hear about your experience with the discharge process and, if you have made a final decision, what you decided and what persuaded you in that final choice. Please take the time to complete and return the attached questionnaire by. We will share the results, without names, with the Department of Justice so that they can get a better handle on how the process is working. We will also share the results among ourselves so we can benefit from each other’s experience. The questionnaire is attached in both MS Word and PDF so that you can either enter your responses directly into the MS Word version and e-mail it back to us or write them into the PDF version by hand. Handwritten responses should be mailed to: Judith Korf, 2058/11C Royal Fern Court, Reston, VA 20191-2081.
Technically, SB 627 does not take effect until. However, that does not preclude Governor McAuliffe and DBHDS from implementing its provisions immediately. Thus, we assume that the work group called for in the legislation will be established shortly and begin its work “to consider options for expanding the number of training centers that remain open, in whole or in part, in the Commonwealth.” It would make little sense to retain the Department’s closure date for NVTC while the work group is considering whether to keep NVTC open. Thus, we assume that the date will be either pushed back or suspended until the work group completes its review and the McAuliffe administration determines the future of NVTC. Under the circumstances, we also think it would make no sense to send residents whose authorized representatives want continuing Training Center care to another Center as long as there is the possibility that NVTC will remain open. We assume this policy will be suspended as well.
With regard to the standard of care your loved one is entitled to, the effective date of SB 627 should have little or no impact. While SB 627 establishes a requirement that the DBHDS certify that the quality of care in a placement outside NVTC be “comparable” to that received at NVTC, the DBHDS has said in writing and verbally that residents now are entitled to “equal to, or better than, current services” in the community. Either standard means that you can insist on receiving such quality services. Thus, before you make any decision on placement, we encourage you to work with NVTC staff to identify the essential services your loved one is receiving at NVTC so that you can assess whether any community placement you are offered provides services that are “equal to or better than” or “comparable” to current services.
From our perspective, our advice remains the same. If you have found a satisfactory placement in the community, then you will probably want to go ahead with the transition process. If you are uncertain as to whether available community options can meet the needs of your resident (remembering your right to equal or better or comparable services), you should exercise your right to insist on such care. If you would like to have him or her remain at a Training Center, regardless of the quality of available community placements, you may exercise the legal right to reject any community placement. If your decision depends on whether NVTC will remain open or not, then you probably want to wait to see the results of the work group.
We will inform you of any State decision with regard to changes in the scheduled closure date as soon as we hear anything.
Key provisions of SB 627 require DBHDS to:
- Certify, before any resident is transferred to either the community or another Training Center, that the receiving placement “provides a quality of care that is comparable to that provided in the resident’s current training center regarding medical, health, developmental, and behavioral care and safety” (emphasis added)
- Disclose “all permissible placement options available under the Commonwealth’s August 23, 2012 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, including the option to remain in a training center.”
- “Convene a work group of interested stakeholders, which shall include members of the General Assembly, to consider options for expanding the number of training centers that remain open, in whole or in part, in the Commonwealth.” (emphasis added)
One final cautionary note: Please do not distribute this on the NVTC campus. It is prohibited by state law.