UPDATE: Closure revised for western Missouri mental facility

Monday, April 26, 2010 | 7:54 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Dozens of developmentally disabled residents could remain near their current homes, instead of being scattered throughout the region, under a revised plan announced Monday for closing a western Missouri mental health facility.

The Department of Mental Health outlined a plan several weeks ago to close the Nevada Habilitation Center and move its 94 residents to group homes. But some families expressed concern about uprooting their relatives and potentially moving many miles away.

Mental Health Director Keith Schafer said the agency now plans to build up to nine group homes on the current site of the Nevada Habilitation Center. That will allow about 70 residents to remain there; the rest will be moved to group homes in southeast Missouri.

"We're cautiously excited about this situation," Natalie Woods, president of the Nevada Habilitation Center Family Support Association, said. Woods said her 37-year-old sister, Cindy Ivie, has cerebral palsy, mild mental retardation, epilepsy and mental illnesses and had been "very sad and scared" about the prospect of moving and losing her current care providers.

The relatives' association is grateful that the compromise allows residents to continue being cared for by state staff. But Woods added that family members still are concerned their relatives might receive fewer medical services in the group homes.

The revised plan is projected to save $3.1 million in annual operating costs by closing the current dormitories, where residents typically share rooms. Eight residents will live in each of the new group homes, with their own bedrooms and common kitchens, and will help staff with daily household activities.

Schafer said the group homes will be cheaper to operate because they will not require as many on-site medical personnel, cooks, janitors and administrators. After accounting for additional personnel at some group homes, the change will result in a net reduction of about 55 of the roughly 300 staff positions at the Nevadafacility, he said.

The projected $3.1 million of savings do not take into account the construction cost of the new group homes, which the state plans to finance through a lease-purchase arrangement, Schafer said. But he said those construction costs should be less than the operational savings.

The current dormitory-style buildings will not close until the new group homes are completed around Jan. 1, 2012, Schafer said.

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