BEATRICE – Trying to address needs of developmental disability treatment under the State of Nebraska’s Olmstead plan, a state lawmaker who represents a district that includes the Beatrice State Developmental Center doesn’t see legislation to make major changes in the coming 60-day session.

Senator Myron Dorn said lawmakers are still awaiting a consultant report on developmental disabilities services in Nebraska. A separate evaluation of the state’s Olmstead Plan does provide a progress report.

"Staffing is one of the issues right now for many of these facilities and getting enough qualified staff, getting enough staff that is trained. Covid has been a challenge. There's different things going on that maybe the metrics sometimes are not where you think they should be...but they're working through those."

The Olmstead case ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999 held that people with disabilities have a right to state funded supports or services in the community, rather than at an institution, if certain criteria are met.  Dorn says there has been a welcoming atmosphere in Beatrice with organizations such as Mosaic, but challenges remain…such as housing for those with developmental disabilities.

BSDC, founded under a different name in 1885, had over 2,200 patients at it’s peak, according to a historical account of the institution. That number fell to about 450 in the mid-1980s. As of this past October, 83 were being given care at the center…raising the question about the future of the facility.

"It's bringing that aspect into it. We're down to 83. When I came on as a state senator, almost three years ago now, I believe the number was 107. Due to deaths and other things, that population has slowly gone down. The consulting report will be looking at some things of how to improve or do some additional things down here at BSDC. Now, I don't know if that's going to be a part of the recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services. We're going to have to wait and see, but hopefully, that is."

The consulting report to come out will address services at other state institutions as well.  "The facility in Norfolk and in Lincoln is part of the report. It's not just a BSDC report, but kind of how all of those may have some interaction or relationship to each other...and what are some possible ideas or thoughts to keep them viable and keep them strong."

While the report on disabilities services is considered, state lawmakers are also addressing justice issues, including prison population and sentencing alternatives. Dorn says some legislative bills may arise out of that study.