(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state is making an effort to address allegations against employees of a southern Illinois mental health facility.
Choate Mental Health and Development Center is a state-run facility for those with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities located in Anna, Illinois.
According to a report published by ProPublica, more than 1,500 incidents of abuse and neglect were reported over the past decade. Allegations include a patient having his arm broken by a worker and accusations of making patients dig through feces.
The Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Department of Human Services reported a cover-up culture in which employees would collude with each other and provide false information to investigators about the incidents at the facility.
In 2022, there were 84 reports of physical abuse, nine reports of sexual abuse, 39 reports of mental abuse, two reports of financial exploitation, 25 cases of neglect, and three deaths.
Pritzker was asked about the reports and the allegations Wednesday and said he knew about the issues and that the state is working to address them.
“We recognized that there were challenges right from the beginning before the reporting came out,” Pritzker said. “It is not like we have sat around.”
Pritzker did say that the changes he brought on have not worked.
“As we made changes, some of them were ineffective, we have changed them, we have moved them, we added more regulation or oversight,” Pritzker said. “We’re at a point today where it’s clear all of those things weren’t working to the degree that we wanted them to.”
The governor’s new plan includes moving patients from Choate to other facilities across the state.
“This transformation initiative, spearheaded by IDHS, will standardize and improve conditions across the system and prioritize community-based solutions to ensure vulnerable Illinoisans receive care in the best possible setting,” Pritzker said.
In coordination with their families and guardians, Choate residents will have the opportunity to transition into community-based settings or other state centers where they will receive comprehensive, personalized care, according to a state news release.
The transformation of Choate is expected to take several years and it is unclear what the cost to taxpayers will be.
According to budget documents, Choate Mental Health received more than $4.6 million in life and safety improvements between the fiscal year 2022 and 2023.
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March 8, 2023 at 06:22PM