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Jobs, economy drive fight to keep facilities open
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 18, 2001

This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA--Parents of institution residents, employees and community members joined forces last week in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to keep two institutions from closing.

Governor Frank O'Bannon announced in April that the state would be closing institutions and moving the residents into homes in the community. The plan calls for the closure of Muscatatuck State Developmental Center, an institution housing about 270 people with developmental disabilities, by the end of 2003. The moves to the community would be guided by person-centered planning.

The Indianapolis Star reported that on Tuesday a group of about 80 people gathered at the Statehouse to protest the closure of Muscatatuck and Madison State Hospital which houses people with "mental illness and mental handicaps".

The rally was organized by members of the employees union, who fear the closures will mean they will lose their jobs. The two facilities together employ about 500 direct-care staff members, many of whom are second and third generation employees.

The mayors of two towns near the facilities also presented the governor's office with 13,000 signatures from community members who do not want the institutions closed. They say they are concerned about the economic impact the closures would have on their towns. Muscatatuck is the largest employer in its area.

The union members were joined by parents of people living at the institutions, who claimed they are worried that their family members will not be safe in the community.

No mention was made in the Star article about the opinions of the people who live in either facility.

The decision to close Muscatatuck came after years of documented physical, sexual and verbal abuse of residents by staff members, and lost federal Medicaid funding because of poor care and treatment. State officials and the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to the closures at the end of last year.

Background information and past articles on the troubles with Indiana's institutions can be found at this Inclusion Daily Express webpage: http://www.inclusiondaily.com/news/institutions/indiana.htm

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