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WJBD - Local News - Judge Rules State Cannot Move Any Residents Out of Murray Center For Next Week

Judge Rules State Cannot Move Any Residents Out of Murray Center For Next Week

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

A Federal Court Judge in Chicago has barred the state from moving any additional Murray Developmental Center residents into CILA's or other group home facilities until May 30th.  Judge Rubin Castillo made the decision at a Thursday morning hearing on the Murray Parent Association's request for a temporary restraining order.  

The Association's President Rita Winkeler is pleased with the judge's ruling.   "He listened to our attorney and all her concerns or fears about the big rush of moving people out of Murray without the safety net in place.  He ruled they cannot move anyone out until after May 30th when Judge Aspen is going to meet with them and then they will take a look at this again.  So we have a  really good reprieve to keep the people at Murray safe," said Winkeler.  She  is hoping the regular judge will grant the temporary restraining order on a more permanent basis at the May 30th hearing.   

Department of Human Services Spokesman Januari Smith said the attorney for the State did not disagree with the decision in order to show good faith until the judge assigned to the case returns.  She added the department did not have plans to transfer a large number of residents out next week.  

Smith says the 35 to 50 number may be being confused with the number of residents who have plans developed for their move out of Murray Center.  She reports most could be moved by the end of June, but that is dependent on their new group housing being available.  Smith says the department is still targeting a late fall date for the closure of Murray.

The Murray Parents say the state is rushing resident through the transition process, ignoring the professional opinions of Murray staff familiar with the residents, excluding Murray staff from participating in the transition process, disregarding the residents' needs and completely failing to even inspect the homes, let alone allow the pre-transitional visit process to unfold.  

The motion for a temporary restraining order points to 12 specific incidents they say have 'shocking revelations' of the Community Resource Associates process for transitioning residents.  

1) Pairing of a wheelchair bound, passive resident with a very aggressive and violent resident, despite the protests of several Murray employees.  The pairing did not even make it out of the driveway before the aggressive resident tried to attack the wheelchair bound resident.

2) Residents not being provided temporary pre-placement visits, but instead being completely moved into a new home with all of their belongings, regardless of the transition shock to the resident.

3)  Residents being transferred to a group home with a history of water damage, as well as a weak floor likely attributed to such damage.

4)  Residents being transferred despite the Murray employee inter-disciplinary team not being given notice of transfers until within 24 hours of the transfer happening, not giving Murray employees enough time to prepare for all information related to assessing whether the transfer is proper.  

5) A transition meeting being schedule despite the fact that the resident was still waiting for his electronic communication device to be repaired and returned to him and could not communicate without it.

6)  A resident's belongings taken (as well as a plan to take the resident that same day) to a group home that was still under construction and with construction materials spread throughout the inside and outside of the house. 

7)  A resident being planned to move to a home despite the OSG Representative admitting that she had never visited the home.

8)  Aggressive residents, who have a history of running, being placed in group homes next to busy roads over Murray employee objections and without any planning as to how to protect the resident's health and safety.

9)  Aggressive residents being placed in group homes that did not have 1 on 1 care, despite such care being necessary for the resident.  

10)  A resident being moved to a home three hours away from Murray, even though he (as well as the Murray staff who worked with him) had not previously visited the home or met the staff.  

11)  Homes that are not being inspected, in violation of the law.

12)  Murray employees who dare raise concerns to this expedited process have been threatened with punishment and even discharge, or otherwise stripped of their duties.

As far as the allegations that are made in seeking the temporary restraining order, Smith says the Department of Human Services does not comment on pending litigation.  However, she says generally speaking, Illinois has relied on an outdated system of care for people with developmental disabilities for far too long.  

In the prepared statement, Smith adds the Quinn Administration is committed to improving the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities by increasing community care options in the state of Illinois and they are continuing to move forward to uphold their legal obligations as outlined in the Olmstead U.S. Supreme Court decision.  

Smith says the Illinois Department of Human Services is working closely with families and guardians on a person-centered planning process to ensure safe transitions for Murray residents.  She says the process of transitioning individuals out of state operated developmental centers has been and will continue to be careful and deliberate.  

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