An uncertain future awaits the Sonoma Developmental Center following the release of a draft report on the state’s developmental centers prepared by a task force of stakeholders.
The 40-page report makes clear that a declining population of severely disabled patients and a decade-long movement toward community placement spells significant change and probably closure of most of the four remaining developmental centers.
In 1968, the system of what were referred to as state hospitals housed 13,400 people in eight facilities. By November of this year, there were only 1,383 residents, 456 of whom lived at SDC.
And as the patient population shrinks, the cost of housing them in large centers keeps rising to unsustainable numbers. This year the average cost per resident in the DC system was close to $340,000. Next year it is expected to reach $400,000 per patient.
A moratorium in place against new admissions virtually guarantees that the declining numbers of residents in large facilities will eventually force closure.