Jul 1, 2010

APD Center Closes its Doors

The Agency for Person with Disabilities now has

only two developmental disabilities centers in the state. The agency

officially closed the doors of Gulf Coast Center in Fort Myers

yesterday, June 30, in compliance with the settlement of the Brown vs.

Bush lawsuit. The center’s phasing down plan was begun in June 2005

affecting both residents and employees.

The final two residents were relocated into the Tampa Bay

community on June 2 concluding the transitioning of 312 individuals

who used to call Gulf Coast Center their home. Former residents moved

into new homes as far away as Tennessee and as close as the immediate

Ft. Myers area.

The careful and thoughtful movement of residents prevented

anyone from suffering ill effects of Transfer Trauma. Transfer Trauma

is a serious, documented medical condition that can affect individuals

with severe disabilities who experience an abrupt change in setting or

daily routine.

APD Director Jim DeBeaugrine commended those involved in the

successful closure, “It is a bittersweet occasion. I am very proud

that the closure of the Gulf Coast Center was properly planned and

executed without incident. I congratulate Center Administrator Michael

Mayfield and his dedicated staff for a job well done. Their

professionalism and emphasis on excellent residential care to the very

end is commendable. I would urge employers to consider hiring former

Gulf Coast employees because they have proven their dedication in

serving the most vulnerable population in the state.”

The 502 acre campus was turned over to Florida Gulf Coast

University at noon on June 30. FGCU will be developing facilities in

eastern Lee County. APD has been working with FGCU over the prior

months to ensure a smooth transition. One APD employee was hired by

FGCU to help manage the facilities.

Several GCC employees that were willing to relocate have been

employed at Tacachale Center and other APD locations.