Muscatatuck Oral History - Cindie Underwood Interview
"That was about the same time things were really starting to change. I felt like I was actually being part of a system that was on its way up." Cindie Underwood came to Muscatatuck State Developmental Center in 1989 as a case manager. Over the years she became an evening shift administrator and a social worker. When Cindie was interviewed at Muscatatuck in 2004, she had been assigned to the transitions team. "The most rewarding thing is when we find just the right match of provider and residence for a person to leave here and to get in the community and to do some really cool activity that they would never have a chance to do out here."
Cindie's work at Muscatuck put her on the front lines with residents who exhibited difficult behavior. She says she has enjoyed working with "people who have a reputation." "I had my eye blackened and I’ve gotten bit and different things." Cindie provides observations about relationships between staff and residents, about the hierarchy of status where more severely disabled people were referred to by other residents as "low grades." She recalls "a lot of theft," such as staff stealing new clothing residents received as Christmas gifts. Other staff bought gifts for residents with their own money.
With the advent of Medicaid standards, she says staff were doing some work with no value to the residents. "I wasn’t achieving anything other than feeding a paper tiger that was going to keep the Medicaid dollars rolling in." In 2004, she was facing different Medicaid challenges because of funding cuts. "We are fighting tooth and nail to get just the minimal services for people as they’re leaving." She expresses mixed feelings about the institution's closure. She feels that not all individuals will benefit from the transition. "I really don’t think that the State’s done a good job doing what they’re doing. They started off promising the moon, the stars, the planets to families, telling families they would have a choice and telling families that the services would be at least as good if not better than they have here."
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