Fairview Developmental Center to Lay Off 16


The Fairview Developmental Center is laying off 16 employees, including eight that a state employees union says will have difficulty finding new jobs because they are developmentally disabled.

The state facility last month notified 56 workers that their jobs would be eliminated. The move came after a decrease in patients resulting from a 1994 court ruling that required state hospitals move many of their mentally retarded patients back into the community.

Of the 56 employees, 40 either retired, took demotions or found jobs elsewhere, said Lynne McKnight, assistant to the executive director at the Fairview center. For the remaining 16, today is their last day of work.


“Layoffs are a painful process for anyone,” McKnight said. “These were difficult steps but we do not have too many options at our level.”

More layoffs are expected as Fairview is required to move about 200 clients into group and other private homes by 1999. However, McKnight said there are no scheduled job cuts before April. The number of people remaining on staff at the hospital was not available Thursday, McKnight said.

To make up for the loss of state funds brought about by the mandatory transfer of patients, Fairview Developmental Center--the second largest in the state--must eliminate 197 positions, which includes the 56 already eliminated, McKnight said. The hospital’s operating budget is $74 million this year, down $9 million from last year, she said.

Fairview already has transferred about 200 of its patients since January 1994, when the San Francisco Superior Court approved a settlement requiring the state to reduce its institutionalized population of mentally disabled people from 6,300 to 4,300. Fairview now has 825 patients.

Because of privacy rights, hospital officials said they could not identify which laid-off employees were listed as mentally disabled. But the California State Employees Assn., the union that represents 89,000 of the state workers, said eight of the 16 people who will lose their jobs are developmentally disabled.

These employees--who have held low-level jobs for up to 20 years--would have problems finding other work, union spokesman Drew Mendelson said. Many now live independently, he said, but without employment they might have to go to group homes and collect disability income, costing the state more than if they retained their jobs.


“We would like the facility to keep them on long enough to find real substitute work for them,” Mendelson said. “These are folks who need special shepherding to find work.”

Andy Coen, whose last day of work is today, has been with the center for 18 years, working mainly janitorial and equipment cleaning jobs, and is now making about $1,800 a month. Since learning about the impending layoffs two years ago, Coen, 39, has applied at dozens of grocery stores and car washes. All said they would get back to him, he said.

“They keep telling me to wait, and they would call me, but no one has called me back yet,” said Cohen, who union officials said is “high-functioning” mentally disabled. “I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding a job, but I hate all this waiting.

“I wish one person would just call me back,” Coen added. “It boils me mad.”

McKnight acknowledged the mentally disabled who will be let go might have difficulty finding employment. Hospital officials are working with other county and state agencies to help place them in other jobs, she said.

Of the 16 who will lose their jobs, McKnight said, three are psychologists. “Unfortunately, everyone is affected by these mandated cuts,” she said, “not just the low end of the spectrum.”