PEF, family rally to keep Otto in his home; urge OPWDD to stop cutting services for developmentally disabled

ALBANY, NY (05/08/2019) (readMedia)-- The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) and the family of Tony Otto will rally from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. May 8 at 101 W. Liberty St., Rome, New York, to speak out against the state's plan to move the 51-year-old quadriplegic man out of the facility he has called home for more than 25 years to a nursing home, where he would only receive comfort care.

"Tony has lived successfully and happily for more than 25 years in his current home, where he receives individual attention and has become a welcomed part of the community. He attends concerts, weddings, funerals and goes shopping," said his mother, Barbara Destito. "The location is perfect as his family is nearby."

His mother and step father, John Destito, want him to remain in the residential home operated by the Central New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office.

"What Tony and his family are going through now is not an isolated situation. Inappropriate placement has been and continues to be a disservice to individuals throughout the state, especially for those without an advocate," said PEF Vice President Randi DiAntonio. "For years, PEF leaders and members have voiced their concerns to elected officials about the state cutting services and how that results in diminished care, and ultimately placing individuals in unsuitable situations to meet their needs."

PEF family has been told by the state Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) that the Destitos must choose a nursing home for Otto, as OPWDD "can no longer support their son's nursing needs." OPWDD has been closing 24-hour nursing support residences, intensive Intermediate Care Facilities and diminishing the services necessary for people to live in the least restrictive setting by outsourcing these individuals to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

PEF member Jodi Nettleton, a developmental disabilities policy developer at OPWDD, who took care of Otto for five years, said his situation is a result of short staffing of registered nurses at state facilities.

"The state has trouble recruiting and retaining registered nurses. As a result, state-operated services throughout New York have diminished. The state has not allocated adequate funding to support nursing titles to compete with the private sector, so it is reducing the footprint of services which is an injustice," Nettleton said.

PEF created an online petition in support of Otto, which will be presented at a hearing May 9 where both sides present their case.

Sign the petition here:

RSVP for the rally here: