Blossom says four new providers will take its disabled clients

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Blossom Philadelphia is getting out of residential services for intellectually disabled adults, but so far the nonprofit’s clients and their family members have been kept in the dark about what the future holds.

Blossom Philadelphia said Tuesday in a letter to families that it will transition its residential services for adults with intellectual disabilities to four providers, with the goal of completing the move by the end of the year. It did not identify the new providers of services for Blossom’s 89 residents.

The letter from Blossom’s chief executive, Paula Czyzewski, emailed at about 5:30 p.m., said the Chestnut Hill nonprofit would work closely with city and state officials and the new providers to ensure a smooth transition. “We understand that any change can be difficult, but remaining with Blossom Philadelphia for residential services is not an option,” the letter said.

Diane Sessions, whose 41-year-old sister has lived in one of the Chestnut Hill nonprofit’s community homes since 2001, found out Monday evening in an article on Philly.com about the decision by Blossom, whose license to operate the community homes was revoked on Oct. 24, to transfer responsibility for its residential clients to other providers.

She said she immediately emailed Czyzewski and three other Blossom officials, asking them about bed sores, missed medical appointments, and other problems with her sister’s care and what the announcement means for her sister. “Not a one has responded,” Sessions said.

A spokesman for Blossom, whose board voted last week to end its residential operations, said Tuesday afternoon that that it had not yet been determined whether Blossom would sell its houses.

Monica Lewis-Wilborn, spokeswoman for Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, said representatives from her office have been on conference calls with officials from Blossom, Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs, and providers who might assume responsibility for Blossom clients.

“The goal is for no one to move out of their current homes,” Lewis-Wilborn said Wednesday.

Several veterans of intellectual disability services said they had heard nothing about which providers the state had contacted.

State officials did not provide any information despite repeated requests.

Many of Blossom’s residents are in wheelchairs and 18 are from the shuttered Pennhurst state hospital. That makes it difficult to find new housing for them because there is a shortage of wheelchair-accessible housing in Philadelphia, said advocates and others involved in intellectual disability services.

If the residents are moved, Blossom, which this year changed its name from United Cerebral Palsy Association of Philadelphia, would also be left with 32 houses on which it owed $3.3 million on June 30, 2016, and no revenue from residential services to make payments.

“It’s unfortunate that things have come to this point, but it appears that state regulators did their job properly and protected vulnerable people,” said State Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Phila.), whose district is in Northwest Philadelphia, where some of Blossom’s group homes are located. “Now I hope that the transition to new care providers will be as smooth as possible.”