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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

State Panel Prepares For Montana Developmental Center Closure

MDC, The treatment and housing center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is set to close in June 2017.
Dan Boyce
Montana Developmental Center

Monday in Helena, an appointed committee began preparations to close the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) and put its clients into community-based treatment. The panel is also being asked to deal with sinking employee morale.Erik Burke, executive director of the union that represents MDC employees, says when the legislature voted to shut down the center, which houses people judged to be a threat to themselves or others, it created a "storm" at the facility.

“It’s morale. It’s violence amongst the clients. It’s windows being broken. It’s comments being made to other clients. It’s comments being made to staff. It’s worry; it’s fear; and we weren’t prepared for this."

Burke pleaded with the MDC Transition Committee to address the problem. But committee chair, Dan Villa, says employee morale is not part of the committee’s responsibility.

"The administration itself is engaged in a labor management process with employees, not only to express our appreciation for the work they do, but also to make sure that they understand that they are a necessary component to the mental health continuum of care in Montana."

The 15-member transition committee is overseeing the plan to close the center by the end of next year. That includes recommending options for the 200-plus workers facing layoffs.

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