The Mentor Network, a Massachusetts-based corporation that administers a large portion of the group homes and care facilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Klamath County, is slated to cut off services in Oregon later this summer.
In a June 7 letter, Lilia Teninty, director at the Oregon Office of Developmental Disabilities Services at the Department of Human Services, informed stakeholders that the company would pull out of Oregon by August 31. Mentor provides services to more than 1,300 Oregonians across the state.
One of those stakeholders was Myles Maxey, the local director of developmental disabilities services for Klamath County.
“This was very disappointing and quite frankly very surprising news to get,” Maxey said.
Maxey said that Klamath will be the most affected county in the state, given its heavy reliance on Mentor’s residential services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Angela Yeager, communications officer at the office of Developmental Disabilities Services and Employment First, said that Mentor currently operates nine group homes in Oregon, five of which are located in Klamath County.
Those five in Klamath County each house three people, for a total of 15 individuals, according to Maxey.
“We are looking for another provider to come and take those,” he said, adding the situation is “not ideal by any means.”
There is only one other 24-hour group home provider in the area, Independent Community Living Supports, which administers a single home occupied by three individuals.
Duane Law, the Mentor Oregon state director, told the Herald and News in a statement that “based on a variety of environmental factors, including staff shortages that impede our ability to provide the highest quality support, we have made the very difficult decision to discontinue our services.”
Yeager told the Herald and News that Mentor cited business reasons for its departure, and that it continues working with the company to ensure a smooth transition of services.
“This includes discussing with people in services about their choices of other providers, and if other providers coordinate with Mentor to operate their residential services, then the individual may choose to remain with the new program,” Yeager said.
Maxey said that when the state informed him of Mentor’s departure there was no specific reason provided. But Maxey said he believes it boils down to profit.
“Ultimately the only kind of hint is that it is not fiscally effective for their national company to continue to operate within Oregon,” he said. “We’ve worked diligently and collaboratively with Mentor over the past year and a half to get things to a good quality and a good place in Klamath County.”
He said the company’s decision to pull out is disappointing, but there is enough time and care options available to ensure a smooth transition.
“Currently there is nothing definitive but there are other 24 hour providers in the state. I am confident that we will have someone in place before Mentor leaves in August,” Maxey said. “The last thing we want is for these individuals to have to find new places to live. Klamath County is their home.”