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Quinn lays out plans to close two facilities

Friday, Jan 20, 2012

* 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.

* Background

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.

* React

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.

* AFSCME…

“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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


35 Comments
  1. - truthteller - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 6:45 am:

    Another flip-flop by Quinn. Compare his statements about Tinley and Jacksonville closures to those he made about George Ryan’s closure of the Lincoln Developmental Center and the Zeller Mental Health Center in Peoria when Quinn was a candidate.

    Anyone who thinks this administration is either capable of producing a good plan for the closures should check out the plans that were rejected by COGFA last fall.

    What’s changed? Nothing. That is why Quinn wants to bypass COGFA this time.
    Listen to the families of those getting care.They care. QAuinn doesn’t.


  2. - Dawn G. - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 7:15 am:

    Tinley Park was decertified by the Feds and if you have seen JDC, it is very old and in major disrepair. The State has no money to maintain these buildings obviously. For the people screaming about closure, where will they find the millions needed to fix the buildings? Understand what is at stake but no one can answer the practical questions.


  3. - Aldyth - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 7:28 am:

    What a great opportunity for those individuals being housed in antique state facilities to move into the community. What a great opportunity for those community-based organizations to begin providing services to individuals who came from those communities. What a terrific opportunity for the state of Illinois to save some money by closing those facilities and then not actually getting around to paying those community agencies for providing services - they can just be added to the already immense pile of overdue bills.


  4. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 7:33 am:

    Well then, Rep. Watson, where would you have the state balance the budget? Should we push back another billion dollars in provider payments like you did in the budget you helped craft? Should we essentially wipe out funding for burying dead people who were penniless, another wonderful line item in the budget you helped put together. Please, oh please, Rep. Watson, outline for us your vision of statewide, long-term fiscal stability that also, as a priority, maintains state facilities, most notably in your district.
    It what world do you build a community around state government, then elect people on anti-government platforms and then both expect and demand to keep your state government? Oh, wait, I know what world — Jacksonville.


  5. - South of the Loop - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 7:36 am:

    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.

    Here is the South side of Chicago getting hit again, along with the Springfield area. Besides the laying off of so many, it is sad to think of all those who are in these facilities who have nothing else, and most likely no one else to care for them. These are people who need the facilities the most. This is just a real sad situation.


  6. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 7:59 am:

    South of the Loop,
    Well this has to be done. Indiana is really challenging for the No. 1 ranking for fewest state employees per capita. We’ve gotta unload to make sure we stay atop the polls. Because such rankings really are the only things that matter in life. Just ask any editorial board.


  7. - howie - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 8:16 am:

    The last time the state decided to close mental health facilities there was an influx of seriously mentally ill people into DOC, which is not set up to do anything other than warehouse those people. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.


  8. - haverford - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 8:22 am:

    Understanding that some people are going to lose jobs, the point about the orphanages is a good one. It’s just not something we, as a society, do any more, no matter how good it is for a local economy. Other states have done away with institutions for those with disabilities totally; Illinois’ really not made the effort.

    Can I also just say that these kinds of reactions are what make the General Assembly so hilarious? In what other state would you get a Republican raising hell about the state moving toward something that can be done better in the private sector? They rag on Quinn all day about cutting the budget - as long as it’s not something of “theirs”.

    Hmmm, and I’m just throwing this out there, now… but I wonder if that has something to do with how slow we’ve been to adopt community care.


  9. - TCB - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 8:33 am:

    You cannot tell me that when the GA passes a budget funding Tinley Park at 50% in FY12 that they weren’t trying to get the facility closed. But when Quinn was forced to try to close 6 other facilities they cried wolf & reallocated money to fund them. Then a couple weeks later they ask Quinn to close Tinley & JDC. This is a simple case of the GA not wanting blood on their hands.

    I smell something fishy, this one isn’t all on PQ, in my opinion.


  10. - Aldyth - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 8:50 am:

    For fifty years, Illinois has tried to run a dual system of state institutions and community agencies to deal with people with developmental disabilities or mental health issues. You can fund one or the other adequately, but not both. This is one of the reasons why Illinois is viewed as terribly regressive in meeting the needs of people who for reasons of disability truly cannot make it on their own.


  11. - zatoichi - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 8:51 am:

    Yes it is cheaper to live in the community. Rates paid by the state to community providers are lower so salaries must be lower. Most medical and pharmacy (physicians, nurses, pharmacists on staff) costs are included in the state costs, but those are not part of the packets at most community providers. State employee benefit package is often not affordable by local providers.

    Liked the statement in the news leases that the facilities at JDC are from the 1850’s. The dirt is. Most of the buildings were built in the 1940’s.


  12. - Kerfuffle - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 9:00 am:

    Ok so institutional care falls victim to a more home based care system. It’s a sign of the times. We have to appear to be more humane even if in fact it is only for appearance sake. People need to realize that the majority of the patients remaining in institutions are not patients who can be easily moved into community based settings. Those patients were moved into communities years ago. Those that remain are in need of intensive care. Who is better trained to deal with those patients? Is it the more highly trained staff at the institution or the minimum wage employees in the home based system? And if the money follows the patient, will the state be able to keep pace with payments so the home based care systems can remain viable? And then on a side note unrelated to patient care, what happens to all of these state buildings? If they are in terrible shape is the state going to make sure they are torn down in a reasonable amount of time or will they be left to stand to become victims of blight and vandalism and further liability to the state?


  13. - Dirty Red - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 9:08 am:

    I’m sure the 5,000 soon-to-be unemployed workers appreciate being thought of as a “fiscal benefit.”


  14. - Kerfuffle - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 9:25 am:

    From the press release - “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.”

    If all of the utilities for the facility come from the power plant and thepower plant is shut down, how are the existing tenants going to be able to remain let alone attract new tenants and businesses to an obviously dying community? I had to shake my head when I read a comment yesterday by a spokesperson from the governor’s office that said they hoped that the 400 employees would be able to find jobs in and around the Jacksonville community. That’s a lot of jobs in a community that has already lost several manufacturing plants in the last couple of years. Wal-Mart and McDonalds can only employ so many and they will probably be cutting staff because there will be $50 million less in the local economy each year.


  15. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    - If all of the utilities for the facility come from the power plant and thepower plant is shut down, how are the existing tenants going to be able to remain let alone attract new tenants and businesses to an obviously dying community? -

    Why don’t you ask the Jacksonville Journal Courier or perhaps the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce to convince the fine citizens of the town that a state run power plant is necessary to create and maintain private sector jobs? I don’t mean to come of as insensitive, but this community has been screaming for Quinn to cut spending. It’s time for these people to understand that these cuts aren’t painless.


  16. - mark walker - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 9:50 am:

    All sides in this issue are right about much of what they say, and vulnerable human beings are impacted. That’s what makes this a very tough decision. I think the Governor came down in the right place on this one. More tough decisions have to be made, and more quickly, for our state to get better.


  17. - Give Me A Break - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 9:53 am:

    Well said Small Town. I know if any community is living in “La La Land”, it’s JVille. They elect the screaming Tea Bagger, Sam McCann to office while their residents are working at: Jacksonville Developmental Center, Illinois School for the Deaf, Illinois School for the Blind, Jacksonville Correctional Center, a local DHS Office, a local DCFS Office and a branch of LLCC.

    Welcome to smaller government JVille.


  18. - Kerfuffle - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    Small Town Liberal - “I don’t mean to come off as insensitive, but this community has been screaming for Quinn to cut spending. It’s time for these people to understand that these cuts aren’t painless.”
    I’m only suggesting that the alternative use scenario for the facilities painted by the state is disingenuous at best. Let’s be realistic. The site will sit empty and unused. As far as the community screaming for cuts to spending – I think you mistake the blathering of the local newspaper and a few outspoken ultra-conservatives as being representative of the community which most people in the community would find laughable.


  19. - SO IL M - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 10:10 am:

    This is just another form of Privatization of State Services. And one thing is for sure, it will increase the number of Mentally Ill inmates in the Dept. of Corrections. Just as howie stated earlier, this happened before and will again.

    Where is it in the best interests of the patients to place them in the care of untrained, or at best under-trained employees of group homes, as opposed to experienced and trained staff in the State Facilities? Perhaps it might be in the best interest to eliminate the Community Based group homes and use that money to increase the bed space in the State facilities, thereby lowering the per patient cost.
    Dont get me wrong, I am strongly in favor of cutting every dime possible, but not in vital services. This Administration continues to only attempt cuts in places that they know will cuse as much uproar as possible, while throwing money around in places that could be cut. Pay for the basic needs first and cut out the wants, just as citizens of this State do at home.


  20. - dupage dan - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 10:16 am:

    While some SOFs can be seen as antiquated and beyond repair, the idea that all persons w/mental disabilities will be well served in the highly touted community settings currently in vogue (CILAs, etc), or that costs are significantly lower in the community facilities some things should be noted. Zatoichi mentioned how this works. While we can lament the high costs of state employees who work at the SOFs, typical salaries for CILA staff is much lower. Staffing patterns are such that there is no on site RN. Monitoring by IDPH doesn’t occur and the DHS monitoring is woefully underbudgeted/understaffed. There is much more but suffice it to say that the current community based model is not suitable for all mentally disabled adults. An older model (ICF/DD 15 and under) seems to work fairly well. It could be described as a melding of larger facilities and the community model. Not perfect but in my experience a better fit for many disabled, especially the more lower functioning individuals who have less ability to communicate their needs/concerns. More oversight also assists in protecting these more vulnerable persons.

    Higher pay is also an issue. Even in the ICFs it is an issue. But, as described in some of yesterdays’ posts, you get what you pay for, and many in this state live in a fantasy world of unrealistic expectations and low willingness to pay.


  21. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 10:23 am:

    - I think you mistake the blathering of the local newspaper and a few outspoken ultra-conservatives as being representative of the community which most people in the community would find laughable. -

    I believe Bill Brady, an ultra-conservative, got more than twice as many votes as Quinn in Morgan County. I grew up and have spent a great deal of time in and around Jacksonville. The area is full of folks that rail against government spending and demand cuts, just so long as they’re in someone else’s backyard.


  22. - steve schnorf - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    Much of the savings does come from lower wages and fewer benefits paid to employees on community providers: those savings go away if/when AFSCME organizes the community provider. I know.


  23. - Jake From Elwood - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    I think the Governor chose the right facilities to close…coal fired heating system with inadequate filtration. Sounds like PQ got it right.


  24. - DuPage Moderate 1 - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    I totally agree with the need to close institutions, primarily because community based care is better. It also can cost less. BUT — and this is a big BUT — we need to develop a real plan to adequately address the issues that can prevent community agencies from providing quality care, such as staffing (wages and benefits), prompt payment and cash flow, availability of medical care, etc. I really feel for the families who have made the difficult decision to place their family member in a SOF, who feel they made the right choice, and now must adapt to further change.

    That said, a bad community placement can be just as harmful as a bad institution. When people are isolated in small group homes, there just are not as many eyes and ears noticing what’s taking place. When people can make the same wages flipping burgers as they can doing the difficult work of caring for people with severe disabilities, you’re just not going to get the professionalism that you need.


  25. - Irish - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    If infrastructure inefficiencies and dilapidated buildings are the criteria for closing state facilities, the citizenry better get ready for a very limited number of services and sites they can use. After years of no Capital budget or plan, and cuts in operating dollars I would bet there are very few state facilities that are not in the same condition as these two.

    Also it is great for the Governor and the GA to make the care of these individuals a top priority and move them to localized facilities where they will receive that improved care. Let’s see if their care is of such a high priority when it comes time to reimburse these local facilities for providing that care. I have not seen them demonstrate any concern for the facilities they already owe millions to. Talk is cheap.

    I believe it qwas YDD that commented yesterday about the reality that the reason for State government is to provide services to its people that they cannot provide for themselves. The citizens of the state have to realize that it takes funding to accomplish that. When the goal of government is to lessen the revenue to placate the voters then the government goes by the wayside. When that happens the tax cutters will be the first to scream about the lack of services.

    I wonder how many members of the IPI or the CCC are tracking the snow plows today or looking out their windows wondering why they haven’t seen a plow yet? How will their businesses survive when the State starts closing bridges because they are unsafe? When the services are gone then you will really see the businesses and the people leaving in droves.


  26. - tired of it all - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 11:42 am:

    Shouldn’t some of the observations in these comments, like dupage dan’s, be part of a pre-decision planning process?
    1. There is no plan in place to systematically and humanely transfer the JDL residents to community based care.
    2. There is no evidence that there is or can be sufficient community based care to accommodate JDL residents.
    3. No money has been appropriated by the legislature to provide community based care.
    4. News reports assert that not-for-profits have been closing because of inadequate cashflow, primarily caused by slow State of Illinois payments, so that there are fewer potential providers to offer community based care.
    5. Just a guess, but most bankers will be reluctant to loan not-for-profits money for new construction or rehabilitation of existing buildings for community based residences, particularly when the revenue stream is so uncertain.
    6. The lead time to construct; obtain the necessary State and federal approval; secure Medicaid certification; obtain necessary zoning changes; obtain community approval for placement of a community based facility; and obtain staff, is probably measured in years, not months.
    7. Many residents of JDL are medically fragile, and are beyond the ability of a community based facility to provide the necessary medical care.
    In sum, there will not be sufficient community based care available by August. The placement alternatives will then be institutionalized nursing homes, county jails and the Department of Corrections.


  27. - dupage dan - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 11:45 am:

    What Schnorf said. If not AFSCME it will be SEIU. Only a matter of time.


  28. - Shock & Awww(e) - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 12:04 pm:

    Wow. Just wow.

    Yesterday we learn meetings are being held to select and plan closures. Today? Oh, the plan is already done and ready to roll! Don’t worry though, it’s a very thorough plan. One we have worked hard to get everyone on board with. Right???? Sheesh.

    Is PQ trying to submarine this thing before it’s even off the ground? Again?

    It’s sheer reality the surrounding community service providers lack the capacity to step in and sufficiently fill this role.

    I’ll reserve final judgment until seeing this well-considered, thorough “plan”, however.

    Really, sincerely hoping PQ surprises us on this one with a sound, thorough plan.


  29. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 12:25 pm:

    DD, it’s great to see you sticking up for higher-paid public employees.


  30. - anon - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 1:09 pm:

    Instead of looking at what each and every state agency required functions are vs what they’ve ballooned into,Illinois politicians target services to dependent people.The last time( late 1970’s and early 80’s) this “new” philosophy of forcing people into the general population was tried,it served to place a vulnerable group of folks into a whole new class of victims.It’s the easy way of cutting a few bucks but it doesn’t address bloat in every state agency,and it’s not a good thing for the institutionalized people


  31. - Stooges - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 1:12 pm:

    “money will follow the person” Yes, initially. Then, when government needs to make more cuts, the money will no longer follow the person. Community agencies will be forced to deal with people neeeding a high level of care and no financial resources to address them.


  32. - Bobby Hill - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 2:27 pm:

    “money will follow the person” - I just had a flashback to yesterday’s public education Voucher discussion.


  33. - Gail of FCFF - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 2:39 pm:

    I wish to speak on behalf the existing State Operated DD Facilities. Many residents of these facilities have been successfully transitioned into community settings which can be, but are not necessarily the least restrictive setting. The Illinois citizens who remain in their homes in larger living arrangements are, for the most part, in need of intensive oversight and services that can not be efficiently provided outside of a clinical setting. The medical, educational, and therapeutic services required for their survival need to be provided in a central location housing the skilled personnel needed. No community with the possible exception of a large urban setting, has appropriate providers and they will often not accept the paperwork they use to bill Springfield for their services because they know that they’ll wait for a year or more to get paid. That makes our very vulnerable residents begging for the services they need and deserve.


  34. - Both Sides Now - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 3:48 pm:

    The Legislature and Governor Quinn would do well to examine two related incidents as decisions are made concerning the Jacksonville and Tinley Park Facilities.

    First, almost exactly a year ago a developmentally disabled man living in a group home run by the Graywood Foundation in Charleston was brutally beaten to death by two employees. It wasn’t the first time the facility had problems and upon examination there seemed to be a lack of oversight by the State. Obviously, if the “right” thing to do is to move the disabled to group homes, then the necessary funds to pay and train professional private employees as well as funding for the state agency responsible for inspecting and overseeing the homes is imperative.

    The second is what happens to a state facility once it is closed. In 2002 Governor Ryan closed the Lincoln Developmental Center citing “a risk for serious harm of residents” and that they would be better served in group homes. The residents were moved elsewhere, facility furnishings sold at auction, buildings boarded up and employees given the “opportunity” to take a job at another facility, including Jacksonville Developmental Center.

    The following year in October a 22 member statewide task force voted to reopen 20 beds in an existing building while four new 10-bed “large group home” buildings were built on the grounds. A year later in October, 2004 the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board headed by Glenn Poshard voted to accept construction bids on the $3.8 million project. While the 20 beds were never reopened, the $3.8 million project was completed and four beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright inspired, brand-spanking new group homes are now nestled in the stately trees while the administrator’s home received an incredibly extensive, expensive, and unnecessary remodel. It sits across the street from private homes that might fetch $75,000 while ten times that was invested in the administrator’s home during the project. (Can you say “someone scammed the state on what it should cost”?) In May, 2006 the “Lincoln Estates” facility opening was postponed as the budget contained enough money to “maintain” the facilities but not operate them. And there they sit almost six years later - not only EMPTY but the front doors of these advocated-for group homes have never seen the first developmentally disabled citizen. Illinois has poured millions of dollars down the drain in building this project as well as maintaining the grounds for a decade. And all along “community advocates” lectured the state on what would and would not be best, the answer to which depending on what side you were on.

    LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THESE 2 STORIES:
    1) Moving the disabled to smaller settings (group homes) does not assure their safety. Professional staff, oversight, proper funding and training are still necessary - just like they are in a larger state facility.
    2) Politicians should not sway in the wind to every community advocate’s wish. (I know this is wishful thinking) Ryan was trying to appease one group of do-gooders by closing LDC and then Blago tried to appease the voters and the union by saying it would open, and then building the new facilities. But they alone did not make these decisions. Others on both sides of the aisle were part of the process. That may have been the last time the Dems and Repubs worked together and they didn’t get it right then either!
    3) Think creatively about how the current facility could be retrofitted to meet the current needs or how it could be adapted and used in another way. Adaptive reuse of facilities means less dollars wasted in un-ending maintenance or demolition and less local negative economic impact. They did this (sort-of after closing) at LDC - they just never opened it!
    4) If a facilty truly is beyond repair (and perhaps JDC & Tinley Park are), take time to create a well-thought out plan to not only properly remove residents but also plan for WHAT HAPPENS NOW TO THE FACILITY? There is no reason for any state asset to languish for a decade.

    So here’s a creative thought: If the residents at JDC and Tinley Park need to be moved to group homes, how about moving 40 of them to the lovely new group home facilities in Lincoln that have already been paid for (and continue to be maintained) by the taxpayers of Illinois. This will mean some of the professionally trained employees at JDC will have an option to go to “Lincoln Estates” and keep their jobs, which will make them and the union happy. No private provider will have to figure out where they are going to put more residents in their small facility or find money to build more facilities; especially when they aren’t getting paid on-time by the state. MOST IMPORTANT - we’d start to recoup on the taxpayer’s $3.8 million investment and wouldn’t continue to pour money out for maintenance on a site we’re not using!!!

    I hope some Legislator or top aide is reading this and the lightbulb goes off in their head and they say “Heh, that’s a plan” and push it through the proper channels. Unfortunately, based on past practice, that’s probably too much to hope for.


  35. - Bemused - Friday, Jan 20, 12 @ 4:18 pm:

    I will first off admit I am not informed enough to know if these facilities should or should not be closed. My concern is more in the nature of what oversight does the public have of the money that would then be directed to the community agencies. Some of these not for profits have some intersting ideas about what the can or should do with the funds they get from the public. You cannot just FOIA them to find out either.

    Not long ago I was made aware of a not for profit that recieved about 800,000.00 in FED funds to build two of said group homes. They first hired an architecture firm located some distance from the town where the homes were to be built. That firm put out a by invitation only bid packet. They ended up with two bidders of which one was unable to bond the project, in effect a no bid award. Did the public get the best deal for their money? Is this how you would bid a project at home? No laws were broken. I suspect those homes are being supported by State Funds, when they get them.


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