Governor Pat Quinn signed Illinois' new spending plan over the weekend. His action included plans to shut down Rockford's Singer Mental Health Center, and use some of that money to increase funding for community-based care.
Quinn has maintained that Illinois should no longer focus on institutional care. His office says Singer will close on October 31.
Critics of the move say the governor is moving ahead with the closure without having a transition plan in place. Others say the Rockford-area needs for Singer to stay open. They worry about not having enough beds for those suffering from serious mental illnesses. They say the closing will put more strain on local ER's and county jails.
Singer hospital accepts patients from more than 20 counties. Linda Kobler is a registered nurse who works at Singer. She says the impact will not only be felt by the greater-Rockford area, but by many rural counties.
"Some of those communities do not even have a community hospital. So, as far as community placement, or opportunities to care for people in that county, in a private hospital, is going to be diminished" Kobler said.
Kobler also says she thinks the state is downplaying the role Singer plays in an effort to justify its closing. For example, the Department of Human Services says Singer serves a nine county area. But Kobler says they're currently mandated by the state to serve a 21 county region. A spokeswoman for the DHS did not reply to WNIJ's request for comment.
The Department of Human Services issued this response to the claims made by Kobler:
Those allegations are false. Singer Mental Health Center serves a wide geographic region and we have not suggested otherwise. The decision to close Singer MHC is based on good policy and is part of our larger rebalancing plan towards providing more services in the community. The community-care model has been implemented in other states and has proven to improve the quality of care. Community-based mental health services are more recovery-focused and allow for better integration with family, community and other human service supports.