MOUNT VERNON — Due to continuing budget reductions, the Mount Vernon Developmental Center has informed employees that 32 jobs will be abolished effective Oct. 20.
Superintendent Ernie Fischer told the News on Friday, “This is nothing that we want to have happen. We have to manage within our means. Our means are prescribed to us and all the 10 centers throughout the state have gone through the same thing. We’re one of the last centers to have to go through any kind of abolishment. It’s for reasons of economy that these abolishments are happening.”
Fischer said the center has been reducing its census for the past four years and reducing staff costs through restructuring and what he called “natural attrition”such as people retiring, resigning or leaving for other reasons.
“It’s just to the point now,” said Fischer, “where our natural attrition just isn’t going to keep pace with what we have to do budget-wise to meet our goals.”
The current resident population at MVDC is 127 and Rian Hall, which has just a few residents remaining, is scheduled to close no later than June of next year. Rian Hall was built as a tuberculosis hospital in the 1940s to house 500 patients.
Fischer said the center has been moving slowly to depopulate Rian Hall for the last four years.
“What we’re doing is identifying, with the individuals’ guardians, opportunities for people to leave and find other places to live,” he said. “A lot of times what happens is the guardians find some place closer to their home and the residents end up going to another facility or to a different type of setting close to their home. Knox County [Board of Developmental Disabilities] has also been working with us to place individuals in smaller settings. Everything is done very deliberately with the individual, with the guardian and with the county board. As people leave here, perhaps from a cottage, then other moves happen to slowly depopulate Rian Hall.”