Chapter Update

Tuesday, September 27

NASW Illinois Letter Regarding Proposed Closure of Chester Mental Health Center

NASW Illinois Chapter

Below is a letter that was sent out by the NASW Illinois Chapter regarding the proposed closures of the Chester Mental Health Center in Chester, Illinois.

September 16, 2011

Governor Pat Quinn
2 ½ State House
Springfield, IL   62706

Dear Governor Quinn:

On behalf of the 7,000 members of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Illinois Chapter, we would like to express our concerns regarding your announcement to close the Chester Mental Health Center in Chester, IL.
We fully understand the realities of the current state budget and the many challenges you face as Governor.   The social work community’s concern is tied to providing service within the constraints of the budget.  However as our Code of Ethics states, social workers advocate for resource allocation procedures that are open and fair. When not all clients’ needs can be met, an allocation procedure should be developed that is nondiscriminatory and based on appropriate and consistently applied principles.  

The proposed closing of Chester Mental Health Center (CMHC) presents a challenge to some core social work values as well the provision of vital services to a very vulnerable population.   CMHC and its predecessor facilities have existed since 1910.  The facility has a successful and lengthy history of providing care to individuals who have significant histories of unsuccessful treatment attempts at other private and state operated facilities due to their violent and assaultive behaviors associated with their mental health condition.  Additionally, CMHC has successfully served forensic patients that due to the nature of their crime and behaviors are in need of a highly structured secure treatment environment.

The state of Missouri reduced the number of their inpatient psychiatric beds last year resulting in a community crisis.  This action in the state of Missouri significantly impacted the ability of community hospitals to provide emergency room services to the community due to the influx of patients who were no longer being served by the state hospital system.   In fact, this move was so problematic that the state had to assist with funding to reopen a psychiatric emergency room in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

We urge you, together with leadership in the Illinois General Assembly to reassess your recent announcement in the light of the dislocation, hardship and ultimately additional cost to implement this closing.

NASW Illinois Chapter leadership would be more than willing to meet with you and your staff to discuss these issues in more detail.


Yolanda Jordan, LCSW      Joel L. Rubin, MSW, CAE
President                            Executive Director

Posted on 09/27/11 at 11:25 AM


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