We need your help.

The rights of developmentally disabled individuals in New York State are being ignored by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). OPWDD has been closing 24-hour nursing support residences, intensive Intermediate Care Facilities and diminishing the services necessary for people to live in the least restrictive setting by outsourcing these individuals to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Tony Otto is an individual who lives in a certified residence with OPWDD and has for the last 30 years. Tony is ventilator dependent and needs 24-hour nursing care to monitor his vent/trach care. Tony’s family has been told that they need to choose a nursing home for him as OPWDD "Can no longer support Tony's nursing needs". OPWDD wants to discharge Tony to a Nursing Care Home! It is Tony’s wish to remain in an OPWDD certified residence as he can be a part of the community he lives in and do all of the activities he loves. Tony’s mom, a retired PEF RN, and his entire family is strongly advocating for him, but this PEF family needs our help now.

This is not only a Central New York DDSO issue or an OPWDD issue. Our services have been hacked away at for many years. Our intention is to initiate this campaign along with a name, a real person and his family to bring to light to the community and its leaders what a flat budget for our agency is doing to the quality of services they have always provided. Simply put, this is eroding our ability to deliver the vital services our most vulnerable population needs and deserves from New York State’s mental hygiene agencies.

While the aim of this petition is to help the Otto family in Central New York fight the injustice of having their son forced to move from the Rome DDSO where he as been a resident for over 25 years to a nursing home out of the community due to a nursing shortage in Central New York, we can find similar cases in every region of the state.
Here are the facts:
• Tony has received services from OPWDD for over 25 years;
• Tony lived in a certified setting this whole time;
• Tony is known in the community he lives in;
• OPWDD has supported Tony to live where he wants, to get an Associates Degree, to attend community functions and family events for most of his life;
• He is able to attend local concerts and is an avid fan of music and films;
• His home provides staff and an accessible vehicle to take Tony to family events, weddings, community events, concerts and movies;
• Tony is well know in the community and is connected to friends and people who worked with him over the past twenty five years;
• Tony's family lives in the community he lives in;
• He has doctors, specialists and a community hospital that knows his treatment needs and what works for him;
• Tony was told that OPWDD can no longer provide the healthcare supports he needs to continue living in a certified setting in the community he has lived in for his entire life;
• This inability to provide services is because OPWDD can no longer recruit or retain Registered Nurses in his home;
• OPWDD told Tony's family they need to choose a nursing home setting for Tony. There are no available beds in his community. He would need to move away from the community he was raised in and has been apart of;
• OPWDD failed its mission by failing to ensure recruitment and retention vigorously to meet the nursing needs of the people they serve;
• OPWDD mission and vision statement state that they help individuals enjoy meaningful relationships with friends and others in their lives to experience personal health and growth; individuals can live in the home of their choice and fully participate in their communities;
• OPWDD's mission and values claim they support individuals in the community in the least restrictive settings as possible that allows a desired quality of life and the achievement of outcomes most important to them;

Please sign this petition to help Tony and his family. Let Governor Cuomo, OPWDD, and our elected Senators and Assemblymembers know that we must fight for and protect our most vulnerable citizens, many who have no voice or family to fight for them. OPWDD must do more to address the Registered Nurse shortage around the state so that consumers can remain in community based settings where they are well cared for.

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