Yesterday the last person living in Eastern Oregon Training center moved out making Oregon one of only two states in our country without an ICFMR.

From The East Oregonian:

The activity room at Eastern Oregon Training Center is hushed now, only the bubbling of a fish tank breaking the ghostly silence.

Direct care staffer Eileen Waggoner can still hear echoes of voices and laughter in her mind from days gone by, along with soft jazz from the boom box, a whirlwind of cutting and pasting, tambourine banging, Yahtzee and Bingo, the planting of marigold seeds.

Now most of the clients are moved out to residential settings and even the nine fish in the activity room need homes. The final three clients move out Tuesday.

EOTC has been on and off the chopping block for years, but finally the axe blade hit firmly this year when Oregon legislators directed that EOTC’s 40 residents move to smaller neighborhood group housing by the end of October.

“It’s really sad – I’ve been here 28 years,” Waggoner said. “They are family.

Nurse Conrad Bozlee worked two stints at EOTC, plus ten years at Salem’s Fairview Training Center. Bozlee said care of the developmentally disabled has evolved from warehousing to immersion.

“At the turn of the century, institutions were built to remove them from the spotlight,” he said. “They were considered to be evil – a blight on society. It was a fancy way to say they were scum.”

Fairview opened in 1908 as the Oregon State Institution for the Feeble-Minded. During World War II, society softened its view, Bozlee said, and began viewing the developmentally disabled as innocents who would forever remain children. Institutionalizing them, however, was still the norm.

Later, civil rights activism prompted changes.

“A lot of money went into mainstreaming,” Bozlee said. “People started asking, ‘Why are these people in prison when they never committed a crime?'”

With the latest move to community settings, he said, “Oregon is actually ahead of the curve.”
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Thanks for Kathryn Weit for the link.