Supporters want Vineland Development Center to remain open

A brother of a developmentally disabled man urged the Assembly Budget Committee Tuesday to keep open the Vineland Development Center, which is slated to close.

One of the supporters of such centers, Rocco Mazza, said he is pleased with the care his 51-year-old brother has received at Hunterdon Developmental Center since he started residing there in 1974. Mazza said his brother requires 24-hour care at Hunterdon, and he believes that closing the Vineland center would amount to breaking a “moral contract.”

“There is no possibility that he or others like him could function under a lesser standard of care,” Mazza testified before the committee. “With the threat of closure…this moral contract is being broken.”

Gov. Chris Christie has called for the closure of the Vineland center by 2013, and has allocated funds toward that end. The estimated 700 patients there would be moved by the state to a community-based care facility with the help of transitional state funds, or so-called “bridge funds.”

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, (D-6), of Voorhees, chairman of the Budget Committee, has supported the move toward getting patients into community medical care facilities as a way to cut costs.

He called the state’s developmental centers “antiquated,” adding that New Jersey has been far behind the curve of other states that have made the transition.    Supporters want Vineland Development Center to remain open