Stunned and angered at inadequate care at Dover Woods
Bob Davison, the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Essex County spent 51 hours last month at Dover Woods, a state-licensed residential health care facility in Toms River. The Dover Woods is a home the mentally ill who are discharged from state psychiatric hospitals. Mr. Davison kept a journal that described the “dangerous conditions and relentless chaos.”
“It stunned and angered me. The whole time I was there the staff never spoke to me. It was difficult, particularly hearing all the noises — the slamming doors, people hallucinating, people arguing with themselves, throwing furniture in the courtyard. It really sounded like bedlam.”
“Sparse living conditions, no social activities, no real choice of where to go … no hope for improving their circumstances,. When you take away someone’s hope you in essence exploit them. At Dover Woods, vulnerable people are stripped of their dignity.”
He entered the facility as Bob Zimmerman, the real name of his musical hero Bob Dylan. He was able to get in without ID just a check.
According to the article his intake last on 10 minutes and “asked for his name, Social Security number and date of birth … They asked if he had a legal background — murder, arson, Megan’s law. He said no, and they took that as fact.”
The article identified that “since July 2009, the Department of Human Services has transferred 463 patients from state hospitals to residential health care facilities, including 63 to Dover Woods.”
Based on his undercover experience, Mr. Davison is now “calling on Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to demand these facilities be made safer or stop using them.”
The cost for group homes is much as $68,000 a year. It’s $65,000 for a supervised apartment and about $23,000 for other forms of supportive housing.
We agree! Supportive housing provides quality affordable; permanent housing that fosters freedom, independence and community integration. New Jersey should expand supportive housing instead of relying on more expensive options that provide bedlam instead of dignity.