Later on today I am meeting with the Executive Director of TASH, Barbara Trader. Barbara is in Chicago because the TASH Convention in Chicago next year.In another attempt to keep the state institution in Jacksonville a report has been issued stating the closure of JDC will have a negative impact on the ICFDD system in Central and Southern Illinois. The Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative invests in community alternatives not institutional services so the report is certainly flawed. We need to move away from the politics of institutional closure and commit resources to building a strong community where everyone can live full and productive lives.
An analysis prepared by staff of the state’s health facilities oversight board finds that closing the Jacksonville Developmental Center would have a “negative impact” on some mental health services in central Illinois.
The report was prepared in advance of a meeting scheduled Oct. 30-31 at which the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will vote on whether JDC should close, as Gov. Pat Quinn wants.
Under the heading of “State Board Standards Not Met,” the report said, “The proposed discontinuation will have a negative impact on intermediate care developmentally disabled services being provided in the service area.” The service area includes 18 counties in central Illinois.
The report noted that there are no state-operated intermediate care or developmental disabilities facilities with more than 16 beds within 45 minutes of JDC. The report found only one non-state facility with more than 16 beds within 45 minutes of JDC, and that one — Brother James Court in Springfield — is at over 94 percent occupancy.
A number of non-state facilities in central Illinois with 16 or fewer beds are listed, but most of them also are nearly full.
The closest state-operated facility with more than 16 beds that isn’t over capacity is the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. However, Quinn wants to close that facility, too. The next closest is the Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.
“From documentation received from (the state) it would appear that the state of Illinois will provide community based residential services,” the report states. “At the time of this report it is unclear who or when these alternative providers will be in place.”
In its application to close JDC, the Department of Human Services “asserts that community capacity is expanding to serve more people with developmental or intellectual disabilities,” the report said.
Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, said he had not seen the report, but was heartened by its findings. He said it underscores the hardship that will be faced by JDC guardians if their loved ones are transferred to other state facilities.
“You’re going to be asking them to drive three or four more hours,” he said. “Some of these are older individuals and some of them are of limited means.”
“I’m glad to hear they concur with what myself and Rep. Watson and several other folks have been saying for at least a year now,” said Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said the finding reinforces the union’s position as well.
“This recommendation against closure underscores and validates the serious concerns long raised by the families of Jacksonville residents and by JDC employees, but ignored by Gov. Quinn,” AFSCME said in a statement.
DHS stood by its plan to move JDC residents into community-based settings.
“The department has devised a comprehensive plan to provide needed services through the use of community-based providers that will form a network of care for residents previously served at JDC,” the department said in a statement.
The legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has voted to keep JDC open. However, the COGFA recommendation is advisory only. A vote by the Health Facilities and Services Review Board is binding.
But the impact of the staff report on that decision is unclear. A finding similar to that on JDC was made in a report prepared for the closure of the Singer Mental Health and Developmental Center in Rockford. Nonetheless, the board voted to let the state close Singer.
Watson, McCann, Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard and others plan to attend the health facilities board meeting in Bolingbrook at the end of the month. Ezard wouldn’t call the hearing the last chance to keep JDC open, but “it would be one of our last efforts. It will be important.”
Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.
Nurse dismissed after death of JDC resident
JACKSONVILLE — A nurse on duty the night a Jacksonville Developmental Center resident died after choking on food has been dismissed.
Cyndi Rutledge was working on contract at the facility through ReadyNurse Staffing Services.
Contacted Wednesday, Rutledge said she had been advised not to speak to the media about the incident.
However, she told the Jacksonville Journal-Courier Tuesday she was called to an emergency in an unfamiliar area. She said that when she arrived, two JDC technicians were giving CPR to John R. Long, 69, who was choking on a donut soaked in milk. Long was taken to Passavant Area Hospital, where he died.
The newspaper reported Rutledge said her dismissal may have been because she violated protocol by leaving Long to get a defibrillator. She said she wasn’t aware of the protocol.
DHS spokeswoman Januari Smith Trader said she couldn’t comment about the incident because the Office of Inspector General and the Department of Public Health are conducting investigations.
Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, said the administration’s haste to close JDC has “created a less than ideal environment” at the facility, but people shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
“This really could have been just one of those things,” Watson said. “I guess we have to wait until that report is done,” Watson said.