A group of 18 elected officials have put their "John Hancocks" on a letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn opposing , including the .
"… We are greatly disturbed by the proposed closing of the center," the letter said. " MHC is the only public psychiatric hospital in the region, a unique resource and an integral part of the mental health system. Its services cannot be replaced, especially at a time when state support for community health services has been cut by $32 million and private hospitals in the area are closing their inpatient mental health programs."
The center treated 2,000 patients last year, according to the letter, and employs 207 employees.
Quinn's proposal to close it is part of a plan to cut state spending. He blamed the move on state lawmakers who gave him a budget that was $2.2 billion less than he requested.
“It’s time for a rendezvous with reality” for legislators, , during a news conference in Chicago.
Elected officials representing the Southland area the center serves including south Cook, Will, Grundy and Kankakee counties, as well as the south side of Chicago, signed the document. It echoed sentiments from providers in State of Illinois Mental Health Summit, who called the closure "illegal, unwise and inhumane."
The local facility's adjoining Howe Developmental Center was closed in July 2009, when the mental health center was downsized to 150 beds.
In addition to closing the 250-acre facility at 7400 W. 183rd St., Quinn wants to close mental health centers in Rockford and Chester as well as two downstate centers for the developmentally disabled, the Illinois Youth Correctional Center in Murphysboro and the Logan Correctional Center.
The closings would save the state $313 million, Quinn has said.
Officials opposing the move said they recognize that the facility will need financial help to continue operations.
"We realize that additional funds will have to be appropriated to maintain Tinley Park MHC in the current budget year, and pledge to work with you to help accomplish that task," the letter said.
The following officials signed the document:
- Sen. Maggie Crotty, D-Oak Forest
- Sen. Toi W. Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields
- Sen. Edward D. Maloney, D-Chicago
- Sen. Donne E. Trotter, D-Chicago
- Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet
- Rep. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago
- Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago
- Rep. William Davis, D-East Hazel Crest
- Rep. Mary E. Flowers, D-Chicago
- Rep. Constance A. Howard, D-Chicago
- Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City
- Rep. Jack McGuire, D-Joliet
- Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields
- Cook County Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy, D-Crestwood
- Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes, D-Chicago
- Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims, D-Chicago
- Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, D-Chicago
- Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston
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