Zuni home to close next year

Published 12:16 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Facility doesn’t meet new federal guidelines

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

ZUNI — After providing a place to live for those with intellectual disabilities for nearly 50 years, the Zuni Presbyterian Home is slated to close early next year.

The facility, which is currently home to 37 individuals, will not be able to comply with new state and federal regulations without making extraordinary changes, said Byron Nagle, program director with Humankind.

The target closing date is March 31, 2017, he said.

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The changes stem from new Medicaid and Medicare regulations that have designated the Zuni home as too much like an institution, Nagle said.

Despite rumors, it is not so much the rural location as its residential setting and limited ability to interact with the larger community, he said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“Ultimately what’s killing us is the five different group homes,” said Nagle. The facility has individuals ranging in age from their early 20s through their 60s living on the campus, which is located southwest of Route 460 between Zuni and Windsor.

Some have lived at the Zuni Home for 15 years, Nagle said.

New regulations call for allowing individuals to live in a larger community where they can access resources, Nagle said.

Nagle compares it to the public schools, which years ago began mainstreaming special needs students into the general classroom.

The immediate goal is to find placement for the residents, who have a variety of options based on whether they hold a Medicaid waiver, those without a waiver and those on a waiting list, Nagle said.

Those with the most options are residents with Medicaid waivers, but many at Zuni don’t fit in that category, Nagle said.

Over the years, Zuni has accepted more “charity cases” than most facilities, and as a result, relied on the generosity of local organizations, churches and individuals.

“No one has done with we’ve done,” Nagle said.

Humankind, which simply represents a name change for Presbyterian Homes and Family Services, is now trying to develop a sponsored homes program. A sponsored home is where a resident lives with a family and that family is compensated, Nagle said.

The sponsored home would also receive support and case management from Humankind and the local Community Services Board.

The goal is for the individual to become part of the family, Nagle said.

“We will have a lot of people with limited options, so we’re trying to be creative,” he said.

When the Zuni Home began nearly 50 years ago, it was considered a training center — where residents received job training and then returned home, Nagle said. But after many years, that model fell out of favor, but most residents could not return home, so it because a residential campus. Over the years, the campus became like a home for its residents, who carried on their lives with jobs, friends and significant others along with being provided the necessary support, Nagle said.

“Our goal was for people to age out and live out the rest of their lives here,” Nagle said.  {/mprestriction}