SPRINGFIELD – On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Human Services and Governor JB Pritzker announced a three-year plan that would repurpose Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in Anna, Illinois. State Representative Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) offered the following reaction.
“Earlier this year, I joined my colleagues in the House and Senate Republican Caucuses demanding hearings into media reports of abuse, neglect, cover-ups, and whistleblower intimidation at Choate. I have been discouraged by the lack of response from Democratic members of the House and Senate that control relevant committees that we asked to convene in public, in Springfield to get our questions answered on the record about these disturbing reports. When asked about this topic, Governor Pritzker to date has offered only a threat to permanently close down Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center if the problems could not be fixed. That response was woefully inadequate and ignored the very real offer of the Republican members of the House and Senate to work together to implement a plan to fix Choate and provide a safer living and working environment at the facility. I am still demanding that these hearings take place as soon as possible so that lawmakers can have their questions answered, and so the residents of Choate and their families can have their voices heard.
“In response to today’s announcement by Governor Pritzker that more than 120 residents will be moved to other facilities in the state, and in response to his plan to work collaboratively with SIU School of Medicine to identify the best way to utilize Choate moving into the future, I must say that I will be watching closely to ensure that the health, safety, well-being of residents at Choate is this administration’s number one priority. I also understand that many families will be fearful for their loved ones and may not fully know what the State has in store for their family member living at Choate. It is my commitment to the people of Southern Illinois and the residents at Choate, that in my capacity as State Representative, I will work to ensure the promises being made by the Pritzker administration to place the well-being of these residents at the top of their list of priorities is kept now and in the future.
“The legislature has a key role to play in providing oversight in these kinds of matters. A go-it-alone approach will not be tolerated by the members of the House Republican caucus, and I will be working closely with Representative Jacobs and Senator Fowler to ensure the residents of Choate are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness, and that their families are also given unfettered access to information and plans for transforming the facility going forward.”