Redfield Developmental Center Short on Staff; HB 1015 May Raze Buildings

Shannon Marvel has a new (paywalled) article online for the Aberdeen American News (sure to hit Friday’s print edition) about the staff shortage at the South Dakota Developmental Center in Redfield. The facility takes care of folks with intellectual and physical disabilities more severe than other facilities in the state can handle. Marvel writes that the difficulty and danger of jobs there, plus the isolation of the area, make it hard to get workers to come and stay in Redfield. Right now, the Developmental Center is short forty-some workers:

According to the state Department of Labor website, the number of Spink County residents in the workforce in 2015 increased from 3,250 in January to 3,305 in November with a 1.9 percent decrease in the unemployment rate.

More people are taking jobs in Redfield, just not at the developmental center where employee numbers have dropped from 385.6 on staff in 2014 to a maximum of 339.6 in December 2015 [Shannon Marvel, “Developmental Center in Redfield Fights Perpetual Staff Shortage,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.01.07].

The state may be looking at cutting its needs for staff in Redfield by cutting its space for patients. House Bill 1015, requested by the Department of Human Services, seeks $1,808,000 to “dismantle and demolish buildings, collapse and fill tunnels, dispose of debris, repair campus infrastructure, and reclaim grounds on the South Dakota Developmental Center campus” if the department determines that repair and renovation of the buildings is too expensive.

14 Responses to Redfield Developmental Center Short on Staff; HB 1015 May Raze Buildings

  1. “The facility takes care of folks with intellectual and physical disabilities more severe than other facilities in the state can handle.”

    That used to be the primary mission of the State Hospital in Redfield but the Dept of Corrections has been slowly increasing the amount of offenders there and turning it into a Quasi-correctional facility. A number of dangerous assaults against long-time staff have happened there which this facility is not set up for. It puts the staff at a greater risk which probably added to the turnover. The mission is changing probably as a cost saving measure.

  2. What is missing from the article is that many of the individuals who now live there, are individuals who use violent behaviors and/or are individuals who are sex offenders.

    In many ways the state, and the legislators created this situation. Over the years, starting with Janklow, there have been budget cuts which means staff lay-offs, and laying-off long time employees who were making the most pay. That meant fewer employees doing more things, and requiring people to work on what would be days off.

    The outplacement of individuals into nursing homes, even though the outplacement into nursing homes was not the most appropriate, was done to save money.

    It is no surprise that the center has changed its focus. If it were not mandated by the state constitution to have a place where individuals with intellectual disabilities, the facility would be closed by now.

  3. Shirley Moore

    Pay decent wages and you might see more people apply.

  4. JeniW, Do you still know some of the employees up there? The incident I heard about the employee really got hurt but it could of been much worse.

  5. Maybe they should close the facility. Let the private sector and Obamacare sort it all out.

  6. In tangentially related news, House Bill 1028, which cleans up various outdated statutes, strikes SDCL 34-1-19, which requires the state Department of Health to “cooperate with and make available its services to the State Department of Social Services, including the administrator of the South Dakota Developmental Center–Redfield, for the purpose of advancing the health and well-being of individuals with intellectual disabilities placed under the control of the department, whether institutionalized or not.”

  7. Many current and former employees will tell you that staffing shortages have very little to do with geography and dangerous duties and everything to do with management practices. These problems are systemic in that the current administration had been able to operate unchecked for the past several years. Staff members aren’t treated well by Administration and Management and Human Resources is only a “Resource” to Administration and Management.

  8. Yes, I would agree with kaspinkco that this is a self-inflicted situation. I believe it was about the middle of the Rounds administration rule when the center decided it had to act more like a “business”. Until then, it had been a high paying state job with great benefits that attracted people from Aberdeen, Huron, Faulkton and others. You used to see entire families employed there.

    As dangerous and stressful as the job itself could be, having to deal with management or HR eclipses any anxiety over the duties preformed. It doesn’t take new employees long to figure out that Human Resources is NOT their friend and is to be avoided at all cost.

    I also found it absolutely ironic how they stress to employees in training the need to keep their cool and step back if necessary to avoid burnout, as that often leads to abuse of clients. Yet the only vacation time that ever gets granted is for weddings, funerals, or graduations. It is common knowledge that if you truly want a day off, you do not ask for a vacation day, you call in sick instead. I’ve seen people get fired for this, but they feel as there is no choice.

    You also pray you do not get hurt, as the state is aggressive about denying claims and screwing over employees. Only a couple of times did I see someone with enough resources to challenge the state over injuries, and they were successful. Most people are unable to get the compensation they deserve. A truly disgusting way to treat people. Make no mistake, the residents are looked out for and protected, employees are left to swing. I have been astounded at the good, reliable decent employees that have been driven out by bizarre management and HR decisions. Sometimes good employees would simply be here one day and gone the next with coworkers wondering why and no explanation from management.

    There is no way I would recommend family or friends to be employed there under current management, and obviously I am not the only one. Not only have the wages been eroded, but benefits are uncollectable – so what’s the point?

  9. Cory – the reason for the demolition money is for abandoned buildings and tunnels that the state has put off demolishing.

    If you recall, in the 90’s, Janklow had inmates tear down some old campus building. A pretty good deal until they decided they wanted some compensation for the asbestos poisoning.

    The buildings in question are beyond repair. The reason they have put is off is due to cost, yet every year they delay the demolition price goes up.

  10. Things are heating up at the SDDC. KELO just ran a story of employee mutiny – more at ten.

  11. Mr. H, is this Developer Center in Redfield part of Social Services or is it part of another state department? Maybe the law bill you wrote about on Jan 8 at 9:53 is just cleaning up messy laws that need fixing. Just sayin…

  12. the article and video that were released today were spot on. Paul did an amazing thing by leaving his job, which he was incredible at, just so he could speak out. i worked there for several years, and i saw the way things used to be become the way they are. i have since left the state, and i still sit and worry about my friends who work there, as it is a place where you make lasting friendships-it’s a crazy job most days, and you really bond with the people you work with. i don’t want to hear a terrible story about a friend being hurt or killed-and trust me, i’m not being dramatic! i’ve been there for many, many close calls. this is not a place that needs to be hosting the kind of people that it does. the dorm i worked on got an individual that was so sneaky and wise and incredibly dangerous, that the jails he spent time in admitted that they could not handle him! so how are we meant to? we don’t choose the people that come through there, admin does, and for them to introduce such violent people to staff who are not allowed to do anything but what we have been trained, is simply setting everybody up for failure and injury. it is not fair that the people who really need to be there to have to deal with such violence and insanity. SDDC used to be a place for people to go to get help and learn, but now it’s simply feeling like a place for prison overflow. when staff get hurt out there, it’s true, the process of getting treatment is so tedious, because HR and WC give them the run around, that people don’t even bother to report injuries. Jan even stated that the injury reports have gone down, but that’s only because people don’t want to waste their time to fight over it with WC. i’ve seen many co workers end up with concussions, cuts, sprains, etc, and shrug it off, because it’s “not worth it”. that’s not a healthy or supportive place for anybody to be working. Jan has lied through her teeth through several of the interviews she has had with the media, and it is so infuriating to watch! SDDC cannot run on such little staff, because there is too high a rate of burnout, and people ARE being denied their rightful vacation time. i’ve seen mothers miss dances and pagents, relatives miss birthdays and reunions, and it’s sad. work cannot swallow a person this much. things need to change, or this place will run itself into the ground. Jan needs to go, and Pierre needs to come in and bring some relief to the hard working staff out there!

  13. Uh-oh….unionizing in SD? That’s gotta get the governor’s attention! The question is – will he do something? Or will he daugaard nothing? This powder keg fuse keeps getting shorter….

  14. The state gets 100 million per year from the federal government for SDDC! No one closing anything.How’s that for Republicans keeping the federal government out of our lives?