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Judge rules state can close Murray Center

Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014

* Illinois Review

Parents and loved ones of profoundly disabled residents of the Downstate Murray Center failed to prove their family members would suffer irreparable harm if the facility closed, federal Judge Marvin Aspen ruled Monday.

The state’s emphasis is on downsizing, but parents fighting the Murray Center closing warn that if Murray Center closes, all the state’s other similar facilities will close as well.

Murray Center families represent the most organized opposition to disability centers closing statewide. With that obstacle out of the way, all of the state’s five remaining centers are likely to close.

The state argued that putting the disabled in group settings would save the state $100,000 per person annually, part of their argument that the state budget could potentially improve if the center closed.

This has become quite a major cause down there. One of my own aunts is involved with keeping the facility open. Bruce Rauner has sided with AFSCME, local GOP lawmakers and the parents and said he’d keep the facility open if elected.

* But

Judge Marvin Aspen, in a 55-page ruling, said the plaintiffs did not prove they would suffer irreparable harm if Murray Center closes. Aspen said the state, in closing Murray Center, is trying to “improve efficiency by serving more citizens, to effectuate public policy favoring the integration of the disabled when feasible, and to potentially improve the state budget.”

He added: “We are not unsympathetic to the real human concerns raised by plaintiffs in their diligent and highly professional advocacy as guardians, on behalf of their loved ones as well as other families facing this predicament. We recognize that Murray’s closure may cause distress and disruption for plaintiffs, their wards, and their families. In the end, however, we cannot grant them legal relief on the record before us, which does not permit us to conclude that plaintiffs’ interests outweigh defendants’ interests…” […]

Aspen, in his ruling, noted that 11 states have quit operating institutions for people who have developmental disabiltiies. “Community programs have been developing for at least 50 years and are not a fad,” the judge wrote.

Aspen also noted that Illinois currently serves about 1,800 residents in institutional developmental centers, and about 22,000 people in community-based settings such as group homes. But, the judge added, “an estimated 23,000 people with developmental disabilities in Illinois are on a waiting list to receive services, of whom 6,000 are considered to be in emergency situations. The (state) lacks funding to offer services to these individuals.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - So. ILL - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    Pat Quinn has never visited the facility. I reckon willful ignorance is his play here. If he were to visit and felt the love the staff has for the residents, and vice versa, he would realize these people are in their home at Murray. I dare say there’s a chance his big liberal heart would be changed on this one. After all, it is PQ and the rest of the libs in America that truly “care” for the poor, disadvantaged, and disabled. There must be too much money available for Quinn cronies in the CILAs to pass up the chance to toss the profoundly mentally disabled and 540 working people on the street.

  2. - Just a fact - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    Wouldn’t it be nice i the so called “caring loving” individuals that chose to have these children stepped up and footed the bills for the ones they chose to have instead of expecting society to pay for situations that they n act committed when they chose to have a child in the first plce

  3. - Stones - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Everyone is for lower taxes and fees until their services get cut. My guess is that most folks on this board couldn’t tell you where the Murray Center is or could care less. My guess is for the community of Centralia & the families with loved ones who utilize the facility this is devastating.

  4. - Aldyth - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    It is tough for families to get used to the idea of change. It can be stressful for the individuals involved, too.

    Ask yourself where you would like to live out your life? In a facility on a campus with hundreds of other people? Or, would you rather live in a house with just a few other people?

    Human beings do better living in small groups than they do in large facilities. There’s a reason why people don’t want to live in college dormitories, military barracks, or prisons for their lifetime. It’s time to afford people with developmental disabilities the same opportunity that we want for ourselves.

  5. - Rusty618 - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    This is a terrible decision. Many of these residents cannot function in a group hope, because they need a greater amount of attention. Many communities are also opposed to group hopes in their neighborhoods.

  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    ===so called “caring loving” individuals that chose to have these children===

    I’m betting that you’re not really pro choice. Amiright?

  7. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    Wouldn’t it be nice i the so called “caring loving” individuals that chose to have these children stepped up and footed the bills for the ones they chose to have instead of expecting society to pay for situations that they n act committed when they chose to have a child in the first plce

    Oh look! The Internet has finally reached Hell.

  8. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    Just a Fact, what purpose do you see for society, or community, if not caring for the least among us? Just a Hobbesian state of nature?

  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    The sad thing is I have had conversations with folks just like Just a fact….

    Also out of curiosity Just a fact in your world if someone’s parents are no longer alive so we can’t get them to support their children, do you propose we just let these folks die?

  10. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Just a Fact; why don’t you stop taking any deductions on your taxes so you can rightfully claim you are not a recipient of welfare. Then you won’t be a hypocrite. Just a monster.

  11. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    I have to see the numbers on the $100,000

  12. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    Imagine it were the other way around. If all DD persons were currently housed in small group homes. And someone came along and said - I’ve got an idea, let’s pull everyone out of their group homes and put them in a large institution. People would go crazy at the thought. Look, I get it - change is hard. But in the long run, only a small handful of persons are better off institutionalized (in many states, there are zero large institutions), and the state shouldn’t close ALL of them. But to keep persons institutionalize so that a few communities can have a few good-paying union jobs is cruel and unusual, and the unions who are funding this lawsuit should be ashamed of themselves.

  13. - Gathersno - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    The deinstitutionalization of persons with developmental disabilities is long overdue in Illinois and the closing of Murray and the other 6 outmoded institutions is welcomed by all clear thinking citizens. It is not unlike the desegregation movement and if—-a big if—the money is allowed to follow the individuals to give them the supports they need in small community settings, it is another idea whose time has come.

  14. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    Steve Schnorf: Last week you could apply to make over $35/hr as a worker in coal plant at the Murray Center. I imagine there is significant savings in closing the Center.

  15. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    OK, non-plussed, if you are my number source, about what is the annual cost per resident at Murray, and about what will it cost annually for each individual moved to a community setting? The difference ought to be around $100,000, huh?

  16. - 5th Generation Chicagoan - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    I think a lot of people are expressing opinions without a lot of familiarity with the specifics of which they speak. I trust the families of those impacted to know what’s best for their loved ones, and I am so sorry they are losing a trusted — and effective — resource. My cousin was in a Catholic institution (since closed) and she declined rather rapidly once she was placed in a group home. Too much change, too much new, too much stressful — and no one familiar. Heartbreaking.

  17. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    “is welcomed by all clear thinking citizens” Now that’s an articulate, well thought-out and persuasive analysis

  18. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    and BTW, I’m not posting in favor of or opposed to closing Murray, I just don’t like false reasons for doing things

  19. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    non-plussed: got the numbers yet?

  20. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 3:49 pm:

    Pat had the guts to close this facility…Im sure that he just didn’t get up one morning and decide to close it with no feeling of empathy for the residents and their families…a terribly diffcult and sad decision to make for him and a sadder one for the residents and their caretakers…

  21. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 4:20 pm:

    $39M cost to run Murray in 2013. 225 residents. $173K+ per resident. The average cost in a 4 person home is $52K.

    Obviously the resident number at Murray is low due to no new people being admitted and people having left but there is room to achieve the $100k savings.

  22. - BobO - Tuesday, Jul 22, 14 @ 4:30 pm:

    While the closure is difficult for those with a family member at Murray, the trend is definitely away from institutional settings and more for smaller group homes. Better to plan for the change now rather than later.

    Illinois’ per resident institutional costs continue to increase, now exceeding $200k per person per year.

    As younger families increasingly choose non-institutional based disability support programs, costs at the institutions will rise past $220-250-300K per person. There will be a tipping point…

    Absent any real planning, if one extrapolates the current institutional census decline and Illinois steadfastly ignores the trends, by 2032, we will have one institutional resident left costing taxpayers $750,000,000 to support.

    Better not to wait.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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