CHICAGO – A judge on Thursday denied a motion that could have delayed Gov. Pat Quinn's planned closure of a mental hospital in Tinley Park.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Nancy Jo Arnold agreed with state officials on key elements of the case. That means Illinois can close Tinley Park Mental Health Center on July 1 as planned.
The plaintiffs had argued that state law requires $19.8 million in savings from the facility closure to go toward other mental health services in the community.
The Quinn administration is shifting the way the state cares for people with mental illnesses away from institutional care and toward community-based care. The Department of Human Services already has committed $8.6 million to contracts with community-based mental health providers in south Chicago and nearby counties, according to a brief filed by the state in the case.
Other planned mental health spending brought the total up to the annual projected cost of operating Tinley Park, the state told the judge.
"The court concluded that the plaintiffs had not shown that they are likely to succeed in their case and, as a result, did not establish a basis for a preliminary injunction," said Natalie Bauer, spokeswoman for the Illinois attorney general's office.
Mental Health America of Illinois and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois are suing the state and had sought the preliminary injunction.
Attorney Mark Heyrman said the mental health advocates want to make sure Illinois redirects money saved from closing Tinley Park Mental Health Center to other services for the mentally ill in the community.
Advocates for the mentally ill also fear the state will close other psychiatric facilities without reinvesting the money in mental health, Heyrman said.
"We think this governor doesn't care about people with mental illnesses," Heyrman said. "We are very worried this case will set a precedent for other facilities and they will close them all and take away all the money."
Heyrman says the plaintiffs' next steps could include seeking a permanent injunction or summary judgment, and then appealing if the judge rules against them again.