People speak out about potential Singer shutdown - – Rockford’s News Leader

People speak out about potential Singer shutdown

News conference before Singer public hearing. News conference before Singer public hearing.
Public hearing. Public hearing.
Rachel Betts speaks during public hearing. Rachel Betts speaks during public hearing.
Sandy Simon listens to public hearing. Sandy Simon listens to public hearing.

The only mental health facility for the Northern Illinois area could shut down for good in a few months. Before that can happen Illinois law requires a public hearing.  There was one Monday afternoon at the Coronado Performing Arts Center and almost everyone speaking had one message 'Save Singer.'


"The closing of Singer I believe is going to transfer the job that they do to the streets of this community," says Sheriff Dick Meyers, Winnebago County Sheriff Department.


The Winnebago County Sheriff, State's Attorney, doctors and city leaders all worry people that once would have gone to Singer Mental Health Center will instead end up in jail or emergency rooms eventually costing everyone more.


"The problem with that is we don't have the capability or capacity to take care of mental health issues. I have no specific training in psychiatric disease. Placement is the primary issue.  I think it is very shortsighted to think we can close this facility without having some other kind of recourse and not have people pile up in the ER," says Dr. John Underwood, SwedishAmerican Hospital emergency room physician.


The Mental Health Summit board agrees.  Rachel Betts says the board could get behind Elgin as an alternative but it's already struggling to serve the patients it has.


"We do not request that Singer be kept from closing but that the plan be more fully explained for closure given the legislatures appropriations that the department come up with a plan to explain how all the rest of the appropriation for Singer be reinvested in the community to avoid an adverse effect for services in the area for Illinois most vulnerable citizens," says Betts.


One area mother she is extremely worried about her 29-year-old son. He has been treated at Singer a half dozen times for his bi-polar schizophrenia. She says he son had problems with his medication and without Singer he might have been left to his own


"Sometime the medicine doesn't work, sometimes its the wrong type dosage and you need a safe place where the doctors can work with them to help them," says Sandy Simon.


The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review board meets September 12th to vote on whether or not it supports closing Singer. That recommendation will then go to the governor but it is not biding.

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