Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Remember Fairview?

I believe it's important that as a community we never forget about the existence of the Fairview Educational Center in Salem. As the budget in our state shrinks, and decisions are made in the Legislature regarding where cuts are made, they shouldn't be made at the expense of people with developmental disabilities. It's not like these folks haven't suffered enough already.

I made 4 or 5 visits to Fairview over the years. My purpose in going there was to meet people who were preparing to leave the institution to live in the community. I absolutely hated going to that place. It smelled of human waste, it was dark and cold (no matter what season), and I didn't experience the people working there as friendly or compassionate. I think they saw my presence as a threat to their state paid jobs.

On one such visit in the early 90's I recall an abusive situation that I reported. I was in an area where people were working, if that's what you would call it. Actually, the folks with disabilities were doing some menial task as they sat at tables. One of the staff in charge noticed that someone (a male) had urinated in his pants as he sat at the table working. The staff person told one of his coworkers what had happened in front of everyone in the room, and asked them to get a pair of pants along with underpants.

When the staff person came back to the table with the clothes, he took the underpants and put them over the head of the man who had urinated. He then stood him up and walked him toward a changing area. I couldn't believe what I saw! The other staff people thought this was funny and laughed as the two walked across the room. I left in disgust. When I got back to Portland I called the Office of Investigations and Trainings to report what I'd seen. I'm not sure what happened to the staff person, as OIT keeps their findings secret, but my hope was that they were fired.

Fairview was a bad place. I'm glad it's closed. Now, if we can only find the key to keeping people safe in the community, the world will be a better place for these folks.


Lee said...

Wow.. I know this post is about 2 and a half years old, but I have to comment. I work for an organization in the Coos Bay, North Bend area. I actually manage one of our residential group homes. Several of the clients in our care are Fairview survivors. We are proud to be able to provide them, and all of our clients with the respect they need and deserve.

You mentioned budget cuts. More and more are coming. While I know that the great company I work for will stop at nothing to keep our clients safe and happy, I fear for what other, similar companies will do. They keep whittling down the funding for our clients care. They seem to be pushing companies into "creative" solutions for providing care. Ultimately, this will end up forcing companies like mine to have an unbalanced staff/client ratio. I fear that this will create mini-Fairviews. At what point does Oregon government say enough is enough? We passed measures that would let the funding continue. Now that money has been stashed away in a "rainy day" fund. Well guess what? It's raining.

David McDonald said...

Your comment is an example of the reason I try to keep facebook and my blog seperate. I hope the redundancy doesn't drive you to pull your hair out. Fairview=Bad Place.