Although federal Judge Marvin Aspen ruled that Murray Center in Centralia may be closed, he also made it very clear that the state must offer residents a full range of services, including Intermediate Care Facility-Developmentally Disabled (with 24-hour on-site nursing care) services.
The state has not granted a permit to build an ICF-DD in more than five years.
In their attempt to close Murray, we were told our only option was a two- to four-bed home in the community. If we didn't accept this, our residents would be loaded onto a bus and shipped up north, as the state did with the residents of the Jacksonville Center. The judge ruled we now have choice.
We have been very willing to work with the state to ensure that our residents are safe, but state officials have refused to listen. We want the standards, inspections and oversight of community placements to be the same as Murray's.
It cost more for Murray residents because their needs are far greater than those in a typical Community Integrated Living Arrangement. Many providers refuse to take Murray residents because the state will not give them the money to properly care for them.
Residents with severe psychiatric needs have nowhere to go in Illinois except a State Operated Developmental Center. The state's response to our concern about their needs was that they would give them more psychotropic drugs to keep them quiet. This is far from least restrictive services.
Until the state is sincere about developing and providing quality services for all the disabled in Illinois, we will continue to fight for their rights. Their lives depend on it.