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Activists, Patients Speak Against Closing Tinley Park Mental Health Center

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ORLAND HILLS, Ill. (CBS) – Former patients, community groups and officials of hospitals in the south suburbs on Tuesday asked a legislative committee not to close the Tinley Park Mental Health Center.

More than 200 people attended the hearing of the legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, which has already voted to oppose the closure of four other mental health facilities statewide.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he plans to close those facilities because lawmakers didn’t provide enough funding for next year’s budget.

Illinois Dept. of Human Service officials said not only would the Tinley Park facility close, but Chicago-Read Mental Health Center would be transformed from an acute-care to outpatient treatment as well.

State officials insisted that they had identified other hospitals which could take the patients now at Tinley Park, but they refused to say where.

South Suburban Hospital president Michael Englehart said his hospital is simply not equipped.

“We don’t have the capabilities,” he said. “All we’re doing is triaging and trying to calm the patient down. We’re not advancing the care for these patients. We truly are not. We don’t have the capabilities, nor the skill set to provide the services. “

Ingalls Memorial Hospital Vice President Joe Moser said his hospital has no room for additional mental patients in its existing facility and has and no ability to expand.

Other speakers called the attempt to close the Tinley Park facility both morally irresponsible and fiscally unsound, with prosecutors, educators mental health advocates and even with league of Women Voters predicting that the costs will be absorbed by the state in other ways – through services to the homeless or imprisonment.

State Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston), the commission’s co-chair, said the committee is expected to vote on Tinley Park’s future next week.

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