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Future uncertain for families, community around Greene Valley | News

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Future uncertain for families, community around Greene Valley
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(WBIR - Greene County) A judge's decision this week to close down Greene Valley Development Center (GVDC) in Greene County has a wide-reaching impact for nearly 100 people who live there and their families.

Some Greene Valley residents have had the same caregivers for decades, and their families say they now have to worry about the quality of care moving forward.

Bryan Bragdon, an alderman in Greeneville, has a sister who lives at Greene Valley, and believes the facility's closure will complicate the lives of people who need around-the-clock care.

"The advantage of Greene Valley is that everything is centrally located. The doctors, the nurses, the therapists [and] the nutritionists."

A state spokesperson said GVDC's 95 residents will be able to choose between private care, or they can be placed in a state-run community-based facility. But Bragdon has his doubts about private care.

"It's been my experience, because I have a handicapped daughter," Bragdon explains, "many private doctors aren't used to working with the developmentally disabled."

Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) also wasn't happy about the state's decision to close GVDC. He worries the national perception of state-run mental health facilities and trend moving away from state care impacted the decision about Greene Valley.

"My fear is, long term, what's going to happen in 10 and 15 years," said Hawk. "Anytime any viable industry could lose a few hundred jobs, it has a definite effect on the local economy," Hawk explained.

Greene Valley employed 619 people in the community, but Hawk says there will also be a trickle down effect.

One of the businesses that will feel the impact is Gondolier Pizza. The restaurant neighbors Greene Valley, and as Gondolier's Dennis Ryan said, its popularity isn't limited to Greene Valley's residents and employees.

"They employ quite a few people in town and out of town," said Ryan. "The people out of town come by and get to go orders, and they help spread the word about our business."

Alderman Bragdon's sister has lived at Greene Valley for more than 40 years, and he says the idea of moving would be a challenge in and of itself.

"I would be devastated if they said' we have a place for your sister, but it's in Memphis.'"

The state says it will keep an eye on the transfers and ensure the needs of all those patients are met.

Rep. Hawk says families are planning to appeal the court's decision. Greene Valley is set to close in June of 2016.


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