In 1998 when Madison County asked to close its nursing and sheltered-care homes because it could no longer afford them, the state at first refused to allow it because it feared a devastating impact on residents.
The following year the state reversed itself and allowed the closures. Residents were moved to different places and, while no doubt difficult to make the change, it wasn't devastating.
We hope for a similar positive result for the residents of the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia now that a federal judge has given Illinois permission to close it. The state can no longer afford to operate the center and wants to move residents to more cost-efficient group homes -- one of many tough financial decisions the state has made and will continue to have to make.
One parent of a Murray resident accused government officials of putting money and power above the lives of people. But closing Murray, which costs about the state about $100,000 per resident per year, means more disabled people should be able to get state help. The judge said there are 23,000 developmentally disabled people in Illinois on a waiting list for services, with 6,000 of them considered to be in emergency situations.
We urge the families who fought the closure to now focus their energies on finding good placements for their loved ones. The state needs to work with the families and the home operators to ensure there are no devastating outcomes.