Man heading closure of nursing unit resigns

The state official heading the closure of the skilled-nursing unit at the Grand Junction Regional Center has resigned, but officials said the process is continuing.

Tim Hall, deputy executive director of veterans and disability services for the Colorado Department of Human Services, resigned from the agency effective at the end of the month, a spokeswoman said.

“The process is not dependent on one individual,” department spokeswoman Liz McDonough said. “We have a team dedicated to making sure that the transitions happen” and that clients are placed in suitable locations.

None of the 32 patients at the skilled-nursing unit has been placed in another location, but two placements have been confirmed and four are pending, McDonough said.

No exact dates have been set for moving patients from the regional center to new homes, McDonough said.

“This is not the pace of progress that we had needed to see,” state Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, said. “But it is confirmation of how difficult the task is.”

Hall alluded to as much in his resignation letter, which was forwarded to The Daily Sentinel, in which he said his departure was voluntary “and based on a number of variables not least of which was the ability to effect system change in the midst of such difficult economic times and on the timetable that I had projected.”

Hall tendered his resignation on Wednesday.

Gov. Bill Ritter ordered the closure in August as he made budget cuts to reduce spending by $320 million.

Closure of the skilled-nursing unit was portrayed by Hall as the logical step in the treatment of developmentally disabled individuals by moving them from isolated, clinic-like facilities to community-based housing.

Residents of the skilled-nursing unit require 24-hour care.

The Ritter administration originally had planned to close the skilled-nursing unit at the end of February, but has since softened on that goal.

Since then, the governor has had to find $280 million more in reductions as a result of reduced state revenues.

An interim replacement for Hall is to be appointed shortly, McDonough said.

The regional center has an $18 million annual budget and employs more than 350 people. The closure of the skilled nursing unit was expected to save a total of $2.8 million annually across several funds.


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