NORWICH – Change is afoot once again at Valley Ridge, but state health officials confirm that there are no plans to close the maximum security institution in the Town of Norwich.
Valley Ridge Center for Intensive Treatment has a new director, James Skrzeczkowski. He replaces interim Director John Gleason, who came on board last May. Skrzeczkowski is the sixth director the facility has seen since being built back in 2002 and the fourth since Valley Ridge came under the auspices of Broome Developmental Disabilities Services Organization in mid-2009.
Both Valley Ridge and Broome DDSO are programs of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Originally, Valley Ridge fell directly under the auspices of OPWDD (formerly known as OMRDD).
The leadership change resulted from personnel and best practices reforms made at 13 OPWDD institutions last year, a spokesman said last week. The transformations will eventually result in four to five Local Intensive Treatment facilities closing over the coming years, including the Wassaic LIT, and one DDSO institution in the Finger Lakes.
The Valley Ridge CIT is not on any closure list, OPWDD’s Travis Proulx confirmed.
“There will always be a need for some institutions to remain open, because of the severity of behavioral challenges. People with violent criminal histories would not be people that we feel should be moved to the community,” he said.
Of the 1,100 individuals in nine OPWDD-operated LITs and CITs in the state, Proulx said only about 300 of them will always need to be institutionalized. The total cost of services per individual in an institution is approximately $375,000 annually. OPWDD primarily receives its funding through the federal government.
The 23-acre Valley Ridge campus, located on the hill above state Rt. 12 and behind Lowe’s in the Town of Norwich, employs approximately 215 people, down five from the start, and houses 45 mostly 18-35 year-old male consumers who live in five housing units.
The individuals may or may not criminal records, but all have aggressive behaviors that require a highly-specialized treatment setting. There are currently 11 Level III sex offenders residing there...