Department of Community Health Announces Southgate Center Closure

May 2, 2001

Michigan Department of Community Health Director, James K. Haveman, Jr., today announced plans for the closure of the Southgate Center, a facility for persons with developmental disabilities. Historically, persons with disabilities such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism were defined as developmentally disabled. Today, persons with developmental disabilities are defined by having substantial impairments and functional limitations imposed by certain disabling conditions. The Southgate Center serves individuals from Lenawee, Monroe, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

"In the 1960's more than 11,000 persons with developmental disabilities were institutionalized in Michigan," said Haveman. "Thankfully, in the 1970's the transition from institutional to community-based care began and persons with developmental disabilities were able to live in the community with improved quality of life and greater independence."

Under the leadership of Governor Engler, Michigan has closed half-empty hospitals and centers and redirected and increased funding to community-based services for persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Since 1990, funding for mental health and developmental disability services have increased 57%, from $1.28 billion to $2.01 billion in 2000.

"As a result of these funding increases over the past ten years, community-based care options have increased, providing persons with developmental disabilities more options and choices for care which has led to a decline in the number of patients at the Southgate Center," said Haveman. "I strongly agree with the advocates of the developmental disability community who have supported our decision to close the Southgate Center."

"Continuing the movement away from warehousing people with developmental disabilities in facilities toward meaningful lives in the community is essential for those for whom we advocate," said Dohn Hoyle, President of the Association for Community Advocacy. Hoyle has urged Governor Engler to close the Southgate Center, writing "On behalf of our Association and on behalf of The Howell Group, I urge that you consider closing Southgate Development Center as soon as possible. Both organizations have been fervent proponents of serving persons with developmental disabilities in their community. As such, we have been especially proud of Michigan's history and leadership role in moving to community-based services."

Eric A. Richards, Executive Director of Arc Michigan, a state organization on mental retardation and other developmental disabilities, has also urged Governor Engler to close the Southgate Center, writing "We want to communicate our very deeply held belief that the Southgate Development Center should be closed as soon as possible. We know that this would be in the best interest of those who currently reside at Southgate. As you know, Michigan has been the national leader in espousing and implementing community-based alternatives to institutionalized care for individuals with developmental disabilities. The closing of Southgate Center would be another affirmation of your belief in this philosophy and practice."

The Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc., a private, nonprofit organization designated to implement the federal and state-mandated rights protection and advocacy systems for people with disabilities in Michigan, has also called for the closure. Executive Director Elizabeth W. Bauer wrote "we can work to make Michigan the 11th state to end institutional services and allow people with disabilities to live in the 'Freedom World.'"

Currently there are 55 persons with developmental disabilities at the Southgate Center and 178 employees. It is currently certified by the Health Care Financing Administration under the Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded program.

Individualized and person-centered treatment plans address the needs of each of the 55 persons with developmental disabilities at the Southgate Center. Those individuals requiring inpatient treatment will continue to be served at the Mt. Pleasant Center.

Today, the Department of Community Health has provided a certification of closure to the legislature and in August, as required by statute, a closure plan will be submitted to the appropriations subcommittees of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Department anticipates no-cost savings generated by the closure of the Southgate Center, which is expected to be completed by January 2002, as the appropriation will support expanded community options and closure activities.