Springfield - Families of residents at the Jacksonville Developmental Center are making a last ditch plea to Governor Pat Quinn to keep the mental health facility open.
Governor Quinn wants to close the mental health facility preferring community based care over institutional settings. "We've been there," said Robyn Pannier as she choked back tears at the State Capitol. "We've done the community living with our son. It didn't work."
Families arrived at the Governor's office with hand written letters making their case. Later they met with Deputy Chief of staff Ryan Croke. "We're wanting him to stay at JDC where he's getting excellent care" Willa Spoonamore of Decatur told Croke. "We don't feel he belongs in community group homes." Spoonamore has a 48 year old son at JDC. She says he hurts himself and needs constant care.
"There's a commitment on our part to hearing from you to working through what is understandably a difficult challenge for everybody," said Croke.
State Senator Sam McCann, (R) Carlinville and Rep. Jim Watson, (R) Jacksonville, came with the families to show their support. Watson is concerned over a resident being hurt after being moved from JDC and said it was time for the Governor to slow down. "If he wants this so badly that he's willing to push people out that quickly and jeopardize their health that's a problem."
The Governor's office issued a statement saying, "Governor Quinn is committed to improving the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities by helping them transition into community care settings." The statement went on to say community care is "good policy, and it's the right thing to do."
Earnest Jones of Springfield says his 48 year old son lived at the Lincoln Developmental Center for 24 years before it was shut down and he was moved to JDC. "It was so traumatic on him," Earnest stated. "To move him to a place that he didn't know anyone. Didn't know his way around. It took him one year to get settled down there. Now he's had ten good years. I don't want to see it closed and disrupt him again."
The legislature appropriated money during the recently concluded session to keep JDC open. However, the Governor has decided to move ahead with its closure.