ROCKWOOD (WATE) – Tennessee is closing its last existing home for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The first person from the Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville moved Friday into a private home, the Michael Dunn Center in Rockwood. This marks the final stage of a transition from state-run homes to privately-run homes in Tennessee.
The change means that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will now be living closer to their families. Also, the quality of their accommodations is much better in these privately run homes.
Michael Wyrick, 38, has spent his entire life living at Greene Valley Developmental Center. He now has a custom decorated room of his own.
“We asked for a big orange setting because Michael loves big orange football. He loves sports as well as comedy,” said Leonard Wyrick Jr., Michael’s brother.
Michael Wyrick’s move from the state run Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville to the privately run Michael Dunn Center in Rockwood was marked by a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It’s all he’s known, the institution there at Greene Valley. And when we heard Greene Valley was going to close, it was a shock to us. We didn’t know what it was going to be, what transition was going to take place,” Leonard Wyrick explained.
“Well, for a long time in the state of Tennessee, the only way you could receive support if you had an intellectual disability was to be in one of our institutions, and for many years our state operated four institutions,” said Cara Kumari with the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
A series of lawsuits in the 1990s led the state to close these institutions. Greene Valley is the only one left.
Michael Wyrick’s move is the first step of their closure.
“We know now that people can receive support in their community. That they can live next to their families and down the street from their friends. And have their circle of support closer to them,” Kumari added.
For the Wyrick family it’ll mean a 10 minute drive to visit him, much shorter and more convenient than before.
“I believe God works things out. You see his hand weaving throughout this move. Because we didn’t know we was going have him so close. It was a blessing to us,” Leonard said.
The private homes will be getting additional funding from the state. So this will be a revenue booster for these locally run homes as well.