Department of Human Services Announces Changes to Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Services in the South Suburbs


September 5, 2008


Tom Green (IDHS)217/558.1538

Moves will ensure quality services for people with mental health and developmental disabilities

CHICAGO - The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced major changes to Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities services in the South Suburban area. The changes include the planned closing of the Howe Developmental Center and a restructuring and privatizing of services at the Tinley Park Mental Health Center - two distinct facilities located on one campus in the south suburbs.

"The Southland is a vital and growing suburban area and it's time for us to provide more up-to- date, quality services for persons with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, and their families," IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams said. "This move follows the emerging trend of providing care for people in smaller, home-like settings rather than in large institutions. Additionally, the public-private partnership for mental health services will help us provide more quality, cost-effective mental health services."

Howe Developmental Center

Under the plan, the Howe Developmental Center will close by July 1, 2009. Residents will be moved to community-based homes or other state-operated developmental-centers.

Today, IDHS filed a notice of the intent to close with the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) and the Health Facilities Planning Board. Notice with the CGFA starts a 50-day period during which action to implement closure is on hold.

The Division of Developmental Disabilities will create a stakeholder group to assist in planning, and oversight of the closure process. IDHS will support parents, guardians and families throughout the process and provide information on the options available to them and their family members.

"We will work closely with individuals, family members, and guardians throughout the transition process. Our primary goal is to ensure the provision of quality services for the individuals currently residing at Howe Developmental Center, said Grace Hou, IDHS Assistant Secretary. "The moves reflect the growing demand for community services and the Howe closure will allow us to increase staff and improve care at the other state-operated developmental centers."

There are 316 residents and 754 staff at the Howe Developmental Center, which first opened in 1972. There were 766 residents at Howe at the height of its operations in 1983. Since then, the numbers have declined, following trends in services for people with developmental disabilities.

The state will work with union representatives to develop a closure agreement for the staff at the center within the first few months of the announcement.

"We care about and value the staff at Howe Developmental Center and will be working with them and providing support and resources throughout the process," said Lilia Teninty, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. "A center closure is a very difficult thing to endure-especially after staff has worked for so long under pressure to achieve quality services and restore certification at Howe."

Tinley Park Mental Health Center

The Tinley Park Mental Health Center will temporarily move all services into one building on the campus. Additionally, a portion of the bed capacity will be moved to two other Chicagoland state mental health centers and private hospital psychiatric wards.

This restructuring plan for Tinley Park Mental Health Center provides an opportunity to improve the quality of care and safety of those with mental health needs in the state. The plan builds on community stakeholder input that began in 2004.

In the next several weeks, IDHS will hold additional meetings with various stakeholder groups, including meetings with Tinley Park Mental Health Center leadership and staff; consumers, family and mental health advocates; labor officials; public officials; leadership and staff at the Chicago Read and Madden centers; and others. Public meetings also will be scheduled to gain community input on the issue. The Division of Mental Health will also create a stakeholder group to assist in planning and oversight of the re-structuring process.

"Our first priority is to effectively meet the needs of the persons who receive care at Tinley Park Mental Health Center and support them and their families throughout the transition process," Hou said. "We will work with them, their families and the staff at Tinley Park to provide on-going communication and support."

Residents at the Tinley Park Mental Health Center are not likely to be transferred. The current plan calls for the Division of Mental Health to vacate all but one of the existing buildings, July 1, 2009. Starting in spring 2009, new patients requiring acute inpatient care from the area currently served by Tinley Park will be referred to Chicago Read Mental Health Center in Chicago, or to the Madden Mental Health Center in Hines.

The long-range goal is to build a new state-of-the-art, privately-managed psychiatric hospital in the south suburbs. Guided by stakeholder input, IDHS plans to begin a bidding process by January 2009 to award a contract to build and operate the new mental health facility as a public-private partnership, with the vendor reporting and accountable to the state. Under the current timetable, a new facility would open in 2011 at a location within the southland region. The number of beds, the size of the new facility and other features will be determined as the State receives input from stakeholders over the coming months.

The Division of Mental Health hopes to find new positions for all or most staff at Tinley Park.

"Our Tinley Park staff represents very valuable knowledge and resourcefulness, and we certainly want to take care of staff who have invested their careers with DMH and keep them within our system if possible," said Dr. Tanya Anderson, Chief of Clinical Services, Division of Mental Health. "We will be working closely with the unions and staff throughout this process to move some staff to positions at Chicago Read or Madden Mental Health Centers."

This announcement presents the Division of Mental Health (DMH) with a challenge associated with the great opportunity to work on behalf of our consumers and their loved ones. This challenge provides us the opportunity to design, develop and not only a new facility for the provision of inpatient services to the southland area but also to design, develop and implement a way of service delivery that best accomplishes the vision of recovery in the 21st century.