Senators Fine, Bryant and Fowler Remain Vigilant on Plan Prioritizing Choate Residents’ Wellbeing 

SPRINGFIELD — State Senators Laura Fine, Terri Bryant and Dale Fowler responded Wednesday to a news investigation that uncovered abuse caught on camera at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in Anna, Illinois. 

“What has continued to happen at this facility is unacceptable,” said Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview), chair of the Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee. “Stronger oversight must be incorporated into the Choate transition plan to hold bad actors like this individual accountable so the state’s most vulnerable residents are kept safe.” 

Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center serves patients struggling with mental and behavioral health issues and people with developmental disabilities. Some employees of Choate have been charged with and found guilty of abusing patients, obstructing official probes and lying to investigators about wrongdoing. 

“While the presence of cameras at the Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center made it possible to identify and indict a clear abuser, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that it took 11 days for any action to be taken,” said Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro). “This delay is inexcusable considering that the state has implemented statute to require employees to report any cases of abuse within four hours. We have to do better to change this current culture of coverup.”  

A Capitol News Illinois investigation this week uncovered an instance of abuse earlier this year that was caught on camera and may have otherwise gone unreported. Members of the Illinois Senate stated that the cameras are working as intended, but there is room for further oversight and improvement to ensure those housed at Choate are protected. Management must do more to create an environment where employees have no reason to fear retaliation for reporting cases of abuse.  

“Patients at this facility are there to receive care and protection, and to see such abuse essentially tolerated for even a short period is the ultimate betrayal from any care provider,” said Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg). “There must be a higher standard and more needs to be done to ensure that prompt, decisive action is taken to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.” 

Fine, Bryant, Fowler and many of their colleagues have long been outspoken about the issue, regularly calling for action and change. Additionally, the Senators have toured several state-operated mental health facilities, including Choate, to hear firsthand from residents and employees about challenges and needs for improvement in these facilities. 

Fine, Bryant and Fowler remain committed to collaborating diligently with the Illinois Department of Human Services to support patients and providers.

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