The Montgomery County Developmental Disabilities Board has opened the Northview Adult Services facility in Clayton to provide day programs for residents of Stillwater Center.
The residents of Stillwater, 8100 N. Main St. in Clayton, previously traveled about 11 miles by bus for day services to the Calumet Center in Jefferson Twp. The individuals have severe and profound intellectual disabilities, are physically challenged and/or have significant medical needs.
Now, the day programs such as art, music and physical therapies are offered literally in their backyard.
The trip from Stillwater to Northveiw takes less than three minutes from building to building on foot or in a wheelchair. Seventy-eight residents are escorted by staff through a newly constructed, partially enclosed walkway that joins the residential center with the school. Special ponchos have been made to cover the individuals, if needed.
“People who couldn’t go to programing before, are going,” Mark Gerhardstein, superintendent of Montgomery County Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) said. “People who missed a day of programing because of a doctor’s appointment are able to attend for at least part of the day.”
Jim and Phyllis Conner of Greenville are frequent visitors to Stillwater where their grandson Jesse, 26, has been a resident for 20 years. They say the change was “for the good.”
“The residents get to sleep later and they still get their therapy,” Jim Conner said. “The walk over is quicker than the time it took to get the residents onto the buses. If someone gets sick (while at Northview) they can walk them back home.”
In the long-run, the change will save money.
The agency spent $209,000 to update the school building and $937,000 to construct the 525-foot, semi-enclosed walkway. Gerhardstein said DDS will save about $313,000 a year in gasoline, driver salaries, along with a reduction in vehicle/ maintenance costs. Previously 17 buses were needed to transport students and the trip, including loading the residents into buses, took about one hour.
“This is the kind of thing where we spent more, to ultimately save money,” Gerhardstein said. “We were able to do something that our customers wanted and, get a good payback.”
The change has brought unexpected benefits.
“As we continue to move forward there appears to be a camaraderie developing between the staff at Northview and the staff at Stillwater around the common cause of providing the best services we can for the individuals…,” Jackie Carlson, Northview’s program services supervisor, said.
And, there is better coordination of care between the nursing staff at the two facilities.
“We have two sets of staff that know our patients well,”
Offering day services at Northview, a building owned by DDS, is part of the agency’s strategy to combine services into buildings that it owns to save money. By April, Developmental Disabilities Services will give up leased space at Elizabeth Place costing about $300,000 a year. Staff from that office will be shifted to the Calument Center and to Northview.