FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(312) 895-7314; TTY (800) 610-2779
Deborah M. Kennedy
(312) 895-7304; TTY (800) 610-2779
Equip for Equality Calls for the Closure of the Choate Developmental Center
Disability Advocacy Organization Issues Report Detailing Extensive Problems in Facility for People with Developmental Disabilities
CHICAGO (February 25, 2005) -- Equip for Equality (EFE) today in its capacity as the Governor designated and federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System for people with disabilities in Illinois, called on the State to close the non-forensic units of the Choate Developmental Center and released a report detailing the Abuse Investigation Unit’s extensive investigation of the institution and its mistreatment of people with developmental disabilities.
Choate Developmental Center is located in Anna, Illinois and currently houses approximately 200 people with disabilities. EFE's Abuse Investigation Unit’s activities included more than 200 hours of on site observations throughout the facility on different days and various times from April through December of 2004, and the examination of hundreds of pages of relevant material, including medical and treatment records, restraint records, and state agency investigative reports. The Investigation Unit documented a longstanding pattern of significant failures and mistreatment of residents including:
- Deaths due to the facility's failure to provide adequate healthcare,
- Numerous instances of abuse and neglect,
- Excessive use of restraints in violation of state and federal law,
- Repeated failure to address the needs of residents with pica (ingestion of non-edible objects) behavior,
- Failure to protect residents from sexual assault,
- Absence of active treatment or appropriate programming to meet resident needs,
- Lack of effective communication for residents who are deaf or hard of hearing,
- Missing documentation and critical information regarding residents
- Multiple injuries of unknown origin which were never investigated
The Investigation Unit's examination revealed an institutional culture where individual rights and personal dignities were ignored. Instead, a culture of fear was evident causing residents to be afraid to exercise rights or to express their needs for fear of retaliation or being "tied up." The incidents and the records examined by the Investigation Unit, along with the documented observations clearly illustrate the systemic failure of Choate and the need for closure.
In response to the serious problems identified by EFE, the Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities and Choate’s Director have begun to take action to address the problems at Choate. The Department of Public Health has placed independent monitors in the institution and has brought in the Illinois Foundation for Quality Health Care to encourage a culture change at Choate in an effort to better meet the needs of the residents.
"Equip for Equality strongly urges the State to shift its focus from saving the institution to developing and facilitating a well-planned and orderly transition of residents to less restrictive settings in the community or to other facilities based upon individual preferences." says Zena Naiditch, President and CEO of Equip for Equality.
Clyde L. Choate Developmental Center (Choate), originally constructed in the late 1800s as the Anna State Hospital, is Illinois’ southernmost state-run institution. Choate is licensed as a 200-bed intermediate care facility for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Equip for Equality is a private, not-for-profit entity designated by the Governor to administer the federal Protection and Advocacy System for safeguarding the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois. It is the only comprehensive statewide advocacy organization providing self-advocacy assistance, legal services, disability rights education, public policy advocacy and abuse investigation.
For more information contact Deborah M. Kennedy, Abuse Investigation Unit Director, (312) 895-7304.