Central Virginia Training Center (CVTC)

An aerial view of the Central Virginia Training Center in Madison Heights on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. 

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - With about a year left before the prescribed closure of the Central Virginia Training Center, the state has moved most of its patients with intellectual and physical disabilities into community-based care settings.

But officials are still struggling to comply with other requirements in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and have not yet determined the fate of the complex near Lynchburg, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.

Dr. Hughes Melton, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, told a legislative subcommittee Monday that the state has made "excellent progress" in transitioning patients, according to the newspaper.

A DOJ investigation found that the way Virginia treated disabled people in training centers violated their civil rights. Since then, the number of people living in the large institutions has dropped by 89%, from 1,084 to 116.

To comply with the DOJ settlement, the state has closed three of the five training centers. The Southeastern Virginia Training Center in Chesapeake will remain open with 75 beds for people who the state concludes cannot be placed in the community.

The state plans to close the Central Virginia Training Center by June 2020. Currently, 45 people live there, but 36 of them have plans for where they will go when they leave the training center. The remaining nine patients and their families have not agreed to a transition plan. Some families have protested the closure and said other options won't give their loved ones the care they need.

Under the terms of the DOJ settlement, the state is required to consider the patient and his or her family's preferences and ensure that the person is placed in the least restrictive environment possible.

Most of the 830 people who have left training centers went on to group homes. Others went on to intermediate care facilities, nursing homes or another community setting.

A report released in June by an independent reviewer who is monitoring the state's compliance found that the state has made progress in offering more living options for patients. But the report also said the state continues to place people in six-to-16-bed facilities "that isolate individuals from their communities and that operate and appear like institutions."

Melton said his department is working with the DOJ to determine specific indicators that can be used to measure the state's compliance on a number of the settlement's terms.

The Central Virginia Training Center was once a major employer for the Lynchburg region, but now has more than 40 abandoned buildings, many of which have fallen into severe disrepair.

Safe demolition and cleanup of the site could cost anywhere from $50 million to $100 million.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.richmond.com

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