Chapter 7: Woodhaven Center Community Living
00:00:02.89 - 00:05:22.90
SUSAN FULLAM: While you were acting as commissioner, the state proposed the opening of the Woodhaven Center, which you were opposed to but were overruled. However, you had some ideas about what Woodhaven might be. And I wondered if you could talk a little about--
ED GOLDMAN: WoodHaven Center was under construction when I became commissioner in 1971. And from the advocacy with the state and local ARC, we wanted to see the construction plans. We wanted to see the architectural drawings. What was this place going to be like? And it was like some of the newer 20, 30-year-old institutions, tiled walls. I still remember they had one-way glass into the bathrooms so you could stand in the hallway and watch. It was so appalling. But it was going to provide several 100 beds, as they were called then, to relieve the pressure on Pennhurst. And, of course, many of the families local in the greater Philadelphia area that would be feeding into Pennhurst were thrilled that something newer and better would be available. And they wouldn't have to drive 35 miles from Philadelphia to go visit a family member if they were so inclined. So here it was in Northeast Philadelphia. And it was under construction. And I just had this idea that Pennsylvania had pretty much shown how well it knew how to run institutions. I didn't want to do that anymore. My idea was that the medical model, which was much maligned in the early days, because everything was treated as an illness. But the medical model worked for people who had short-term illnesses. They would look at an individual. They would decide what the individual needed. They would take whatever tests were available. They would have a treatment plan. And then they would engage to ameliorate the health condition. Well, we were doing right to education. We wanted an individual education plan for everybody that you can't just lump people together by an IQ score or some other behavioral condition. Why wouldn't we want to do that for everybody, particularly people and institutions? So I had this idea of using the medical teaching model, teaching hospitals, train people. They go through internships and residencies. They learn their specialties by actually performing service. So I thought, would this be a cool idea to do at WoodHaven? And I was a Temple grad. So I knew the associate dean of the School of Education. And I called him up and said, we think Temple would be interested in doing this. And he was intrigued. So we then went to a second meeting with some of the deans of the various school-- social work, psychology, medicine, et cetera-- and there was interest. And what I wanted them to do was to contract to run the institution and run people through who were going through their education and training at Temple. From every school, I wanted architects to go through. I wanted the lawyers to go through. I didn't want a, quote, "mental retardation lawyer." But in their practice, 10, 15, 20 years down, they will confront these issues and have some experience of having been trained as part of their training at WoodHaven Center. At the time, Temple was running the Temple Hospital on North Broad Street. And they were running deficits. And they were having fights with the state government about properly funding Temple's Hospital, because many of the people who went to the hospital didn't have health insurance and the like. So they were fearful if they took this on at WoodHaven that at some point down the line, they'd be left holding the bag. And they knew they couldn't provide poor services, because there wasn't enough money to do what was needed.And so they were very, very reluctant to take that on. So I said, would you, at least, entertain a contract to design and develop all the programs and health care needs for the people at WoodHaven? Would you do that with a two or three-year contract? And they agreed to do that. So the contract led to someone-- had to manage that contract. And they hired Ed Newman, who was then working for the federal government in the Rehabilitation Services Administration, to come and head up this contract, which became the Institute on Disabilities here at Temple. And 40-plus years later, it's still here.
00:05:22.90 - 00:10:40.70
SUSAN FULLAM: So, you had said you took your job as commissioner because this was an opportunity to make some of the change you had really wanted to see. Did you feel like you were taking on the world? What did it feel like to see all of this stuff happening?
ED GOLDMAN: Well, when you're in the middle of it, I paraphrase the new backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. What was it like? You're now the starter, so to speak. And are there butterflies? You said, yes, literally before every game. But when you're in the middle of it, you just do. You function. And that's, initially, I wonder, was I in over my head? At the time I was offered the job, I was 31 years old. I knew I didn't have the requisite background educationally. I'm going to be supervising medical doctors, lawyers, people with PhDs and the like. I didn't have any of those degrees. But I believed. And the passion to try to do this was so strong in me. And I knew it had to be done. And I knew without a change in the leadership in Harrisburg, it would not occur or take way longer. So I hired a bunch of peers, young people. All of us just did. We were trotting new ground. We always weren't sure whether what we were doing was right or the right way administratively attacking all the rules, the regulations, the laws, bringing legislators up on what we were trying to do, because we were looking, obviously, for the budgetary thing. Very supportive governor and the secretary of welfare. So we knew we had support to do this. So we just went about the best way we knew how. And I had what I used to call a kitchen cabinet-- people I had met in the field around Pennsylvania who's had a similar vision and whose judgment I trusted. And I would call them from time to time because I'm in my bubble in Harrisburg. And I would ask them, how are we doing? How is this stuff being received out in Erie, in Scranton, and other places around Pennsylvania? And would learn about midcourse correction. And the end of it is, if it didn't work, I wasn't invested in the method. I was invested in the result of making communities more receptive and providing services to families and individuals to do what I called head them off at the pass to end the need to ever send anybody to a state institution. That was first and paramount. And it's not rocket science. I hate to say the process could be difficult because you're in a political environment. And status quo, often there are reasons why things don't change. People who are working and living in what works for them don't like change. The old cliche is the only people that like change are babies. The rest of us, we all profess to want it. But it upsets our life. And it changes the relationships that always seemed to have worked in the past, whether at the local community level. Clearly, there were obstacles in getting acceptance in neighborhoods by opening a residence. We initially went around. We told all of these community living arrangements, coordinators in each of the counties to go around the neighborhood and introduce yourself who you were. We learned in many instances that was not the thing to do. We also had studies done on real estate values. The big concern, at least, the ones that people were willing to say publicly was it would depress real estate values to have a group home in the neighborhood. And then we had a study done. And that was simply untrue. There was no evidence in sales and comps and all the things in real estate. So that one went away pretty quickly. And it was all trial and error. Whatever worked, keep doing it. If it didn't work, let's do something different. And that was the motto in our office. And we just kept plodding along. And the evidence became overwhelming, even though it wasn't the original-- the study that eventually came out of the court suit that was here at the institute where it was incontrovertible. The evidence was overwhelming. And if nothing else for someone like me who didn't have that early on, it was just proof that what we did was OK.
More Interview Chapters
- Background and Education
- Work with ARC; Learn about Pennhurst
- Work as Commissioner
- Right to Education Normalization; Systemic Change
- Institutional Change
- YOU ARE HERE: Woodhaven Center Community Living
- Controversy at Polk Center
- Pennhurst Memorial Preservation Alliance; Reflections on Career
About Ed Goldman
Born: Philadelphia, PA
Work history: Commissioner, Mental Retardation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Executive Director, ARC, Carlisle, PA, Deputy Executive Director, ARC
ARC, Institutions, Normalization, Pennhurst, Polk, Pennhurst Longitudinal Study (Twin Study)