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Two recent News articles, both related to "institutions," were somewhat contrary to each other.

One was about Kendra's Law, and correctly observed that some mentally ill people would be much better served if there still was access to the type of inpatient care that had once been provided at psychiatric centers or institutions.

The other related the story of a mother who had a physically handicapped, total-care child and the difficulties and hardships associated with caring for that child at home, 24 hours a day.

The articles, however unintentionally, made some not very complimentary references to institutions, intimating that the type of care these children need could not be provided for in that kind of setting.

I was a teacher at the state-operated West Seneca Developmental Center for 27 years and I can unequivocally state that this is not the case.

I worked in mostly total-care units that dealt with every kind of multiple handicap and every level of retardation. Residents ranged in age from the very young to older adults. From the top on down, the care extended was exceptional.

The lives of many residents were extended far beyond what their prognosis might have been because of the excellent medical treatment provided.

Just as important was the psychological support that residents received from the many dedicated staff members who acted as surrogate parents and family. Many of the residents had little or no contact with their biological families.

Residents also were provided with every professional and therapeutic service they needed to enrich their lives -- education, physical and occupational therapy, speech, recreation, dietetic, psychological and social services, religious education and foster-grandparenting.

No place is perfect and West Seneca, like any large facility, had its failings. But when discovered, they were brought to light and dealt with.

The bottom line is, the residents were well-cared for!


Grand Island

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