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Thumbs down: Cutting off funds for the most vulnerable

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There’s no question that blame for the problems at the Sonoma Developmental Center can be spread around to many individuals. This would include whomever was responsible for checking the supplemental oxygen tanks for patients. In February, health officials came across a disabled patient who was hooked up to an oxygen tank that was empty. Bad stuff, although fortunately the patient did not suffer any lasting harm.

Clearly, somebody — or several people — deserved disciplinary action up to and including termination. But what was the federal government’s response? It cut off an estimated $26 million in federal funds that would have gone toward patient care.

Granted, this was not an isolated breakdown at the facility, and federal authorities had warned that the center could lose funding if problems persisted. But it’s hard to see how cutting off funding is going to improve care for the remaining residents at the Eldridge complex, a facility that already faces the potential of closure in 2018.

Of course, California taxpayers will make up the loss of federal funds. But the severance of these dollars will certainly make it more difficult to slow down the time table put in place by the governor to relocate the remaining 350 severely disabled residents into community-based homes, which, at the moment, lack the capacity to handle such an influx, and close the facility.

So was cutting funding a way for the feds to discipline the state as a whole or wash its hands of the Eldridge complex? Either way, we don’t see how this helps the residents in the long run.

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