* Here we go…
Gov. Pat Quinn’s office unveiled a plan Thursday to lay off more than 550 state workers by closing a center for developmentally disabled residents in Jacksonville and a mental health facility in Chicago’s south suburbs.
Officials said the process of moving 185 residents at the Jacksonville facility to mostly private facilities would begin immediately with a goal of closing the doors in October after more than 150 years of service. Operations in Tinley Park could cease as soon as early July.
Although the closures and layoffs are estimated to save the state $19.8 million annually, Quinn aides said moving developmentally disabled residents into community-based settings will improve their quality of life.
“This is not about closing facilities,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan said Thursday. “This is a policy decision that has fiscal benefits.”
* More info…
Under Quinn’s plan, the center would close in October, with about 20 residents being moved out each month to meet that deadline. The state will consult with residents and their parents or guardians to find appropriate living arrangements, which could allow some residents to receive care at home.
That’s because money will now “follow the person,” meaning each resident will get a budget based on their individual needs. It’s estimated that the cost to provide community care for a person with developmental disabilities will average $45,000 to $84,000 a year, compared with $150,000 to $210,000 a year it now costs to house them at a state-run facility.
Quinn ruffled feathers this past fall by announcing the closure of seven state-run facilities, including Tinley Park and Jacksonville. At that time, Quinn said the Legislature didn’t appropriate enough money to keep the facilities going. Quinn and the Legislature eventually agreed on a short-term deal late last year to keep the facilities running for the rest of the fiscal year.
State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said Quinn’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but whether it will pan out in the long term has yet to be determined.
“One of the concerns when he rolled out his plan … this year was that it wasn’t really a well thought-out plan, and it was rushed,” Murphy said. “This appears to address those concerns.”
This is the first step of Quinn’s effort to move patients with mental health issues and developmentally disabilities from state facilities to community care. The governor said more announcements would be coming later in the year.
* From some administration documents. Jacksonville Developmental Center…
The age and physical condition of the JDC site and buildings were among criteria that led to its selection for transition to closure:
• JDC uses an inefficient coal power plant to generate heat and electricity
o The state of Illinois spends $1.2 million each year in coal for JDC
o Heating costs are $7,000 per resident, per year
o Boiler #2 lacks a precipitator for filtration, which is of concern to the federal EPA
• Roads and parking lots require extensive repair
• Roof leaks and mold in three Veterans buildings have put them on a list for demolition (expensive due to underground utilities); buildings are currently used for storage
• The Dietary Building, which stores food for the facility, has no source of back-up power
• Two buildings (Dix and Gillespie) are under construction
• Some buildings contain asbestos flooring
Capital improvements of $3.3 million would be required for necessary renovations and upgrades to the power plant, roofs, and electrical systems.
The site occupies 134 acres, but 54 acres are used by others (mostly for the city park). Some alternative uses for the facility include continued use by current tenants: Chamber of Commerce, a private daycare center, and a women’s crisis center, as well as the expansion of tenants through occupancy by other businesses.
* Tinley Park Mental Health Center…
Tinley Park Mental Health Center (MHC) is a 75-bed psychiatric hospital comprised of two patient care units. Both units are for acute (short-term) care patients. Due to staffing shortages, a cap of fifty patients has been set for the MHC.
Tinley Park MHC was constructed in 1958. It occupies 213 acres and is adjacent to the 62 acres of property vacated by Howe Development Center.
Of the 8 buildings at Tinley Park MHC, only 5 are operational. Only one building is used for patient care.
The facility was decertified by the federal government in 2009, with recertification unlikely. The Tinley Park facility also shares a campus with the previously closed Howe Developmental Center, preventing the sale of prime land for development in Chicago’s south suburbs.
In the budget passed in May 2011, only 50 percent of the necessary funds were appropriated by the General Assembly to run Tinley Park MHC in the current fiscal year. Funding through the end of the year was restored through reallocation in November. However, this is the second time that Tinley has been earmarked for closure by the General Assembly.
State Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) serves on the bipartisan Commission of Government Forecasts and Accountability that agreed with public sentiment and voted last year to keep all the centers open. He noted that hospitals and health care providers repeatedly testified at hearings that they had no room for more patients. Families and law enforcement officials pleaded to keep Tinley Park open.
“Did the governor’s office forget that? I really think they jumped the gun on this one,” Riley said. “This does not make any sense. We have to bring this to a halt.”
* More react…
“I would ask that we go back through the COGFA process again,” [Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville] said. “We still have no details of this plan. They can’t say where these people are going and how much it is going to cost. I would think the governor would want to include the General Assembly in the process.”
Rita Burke, president of the Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled, said she doesn’t believe the state will be able to find appropriate community-based programs for all of JDC’s residents by the administration’s timetable.
“We would like to impress on the public that these are not cattle to be moved out 20 a month. These are human beings.”
Burke said she wants to have a face-to-face meeting with Quinn about the planned closure.
“If I were the governor, I would not look at balancing the budget of the state on the backs of the most severely disabled,” she said.
* On to the dueling press releases. First up, Don Moss…
United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois (UCPI) joins numerous other groups representing people with disabilities in support of Governor Quinn’s announcement today of the closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center and the Tinley Park Mental Health Center.
“This is long overdue,” said Don Moss, director of UCPI and spokesperson for 65 community agencies throughout the state. “All such institutions should go the way of orphanages and no longer be part of the social service system in Illinois. All but three other states are ahead of our state in ridding itself of these relics of the past.”
The Governor released plans today to phase out the Tinley Park facility by this summer and the Jacksonville institution by the end of September. Non profit community agencies will be serving most of the residents of the closed state services and will be provided adequate funding to do so under the plan. Residents will be give the choice of where they want to live and what services they wish to receive.
“If this is accomplished, it will be a 50 year dream coming true,” said Moss who has been advocating for the elimination of the institutional system since the 1960’s.
* Citizen Action/Illinois…
The closure of Tinley Park is yet another attack on the healthcare safety net in an area of Illinois that has no trauma center, limited public transportation, and a growing population of individuals who live either, below, or at the poverty level. To cease services to the mentally ill in the Southland area can only contribute to increased violence and other community perils that come with a lack of public health infrastructure which will most certainly be compounded if Tinley Park is shuttered. Citizen Action/Illinois call on Governor Quinn to not close the Tinley Park Mental Health Center.
“It’s wrong to cut mental health and disability services for men and women in dire need. That’s why families and advocates opposed closing Jacksonville and Tinley Park last fall and why lawmakers rejected the closures. By recycling the same harmful cuts, Pat Quinn puts politics and budget considerations ahead of people who need disability services and mental health care. Our union supports the voices and the choices of these individuals, their families and the caregivers who serve them, and we will work again to keep Tinley Park and Jacksonville open and providing needed services.”
* By the way, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office made the announcement while Quinn was in Washington, DC.