Rally held in Valhalla to keep WC Institute for Human Development open

(10/26/03) VALHALLA - Employees, patients and families are rallying to stop the closing of an institution that helps the developmentally disabled. Last week, termination letters were sent to nearly 200 employees at the Westchester Institute For Human Development (WIHD) in Valhalla.

The people who rallied on Sunday do not want the doors to close at WIHD. More than 200 people showed up in the institute's auditorium in protest. There was also an overflow crowd who had to watch the proceedings on a T.V. monitor. Colleen O'Sullivan, a psychologist at the facility, says the patients and their families will be at a serious loss if it shuts down. Speakers at the rally also noted a unique ability of the institute to help the developmentally disabled. WIHD workers treat developmentally disabled people from around the county, including 26,000 patients last year alone.

The institute is run under the auspices of New York Medical College. The college depends on payments from Westchester Medical Center, but those payments have fallen behind. In a written statement, a spokesperson for the Medical Center, told News 12 Westchester, "There are a number of ways being looked at to continue WIHD. We are working with WIHD to find the best option to keep these important services available."

If no solution is found, officials at the institute could terminate workers shortly before Christmas.

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