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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:21pm
Tue May 5

Chicago Mental Health Community Demands Answers Over C4's Imminent Closure (VIDEO)

Following the abrupt news last month that Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) expects to shut down at the end of May, clients and staff from the major mental health service provider want answers about the organization's imminent closure.

C4 clients, staffers and their supporters from Arise Chicago, SEIU* Local 73 and other groups rallied Tuesday afternoon outside C4's facility at 4740 N. Clark St. They were there to demand "four C's for C4: compensation, clients' rights, communication and commitment," explained C4 staff therapist Max Beshers.

C4 -- which serves more than 10,000 patients annually and has some 300 employees -- expects to close May 31 as a result of problems stemming from a new billing and electronic health records system required as part of the Affordable Care Act, according to C4 President and CEO Eileen Durkin.

C4 employees, organizing as the C4 Workers' Committee, say they have been kept in the dark about the institution's problems. 

"We, as workers, were never told this was happening, so there was no way for us to know or prepare. We were just given short notice that C4 was going to be closing," said C4 staff therapist Cynthia Cruz. "We don't have any type of transition plan yet. We don't know what to tell our clients, and our clients also have a right to know what's happening for them next."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:21pm
Mon Mar 16

Illinoisans Speak Out Against Rauner's Proposed Human Services Budget Cuts

A few hundred Illinoisans attended a state Senate appropriations hearing in Chicago on Monday to discuss Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget cuts to Department of Human Services programs. Here's a breakdown of what happened at the hearing and what some audience members have to say about the governor's fiscal plan.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:20am
Thu Jan 22

Advocates Urge Rauner, Illinois Legislature To Prioritize Mental Health Funding

As the Democrat-controlled Illinois legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner gear up to tackle the state's fiscal problems, including a multi-billion budget deficit, mental health advocates are warning against further cuts to community-based services.

"Community mental health services have been cut to the core, and we're seeing a lot of the fallout," said Heather O'Donnell, vice president of public policy and advocacy for Chicago-based Thresholds, a recovery service provider for people with mental illness in Illinois.

Among other issues, O'Donnell noted that the Cook County Jail has about 2,000 inmates with some form of mental illness. And 22,000 people with mental illness in the state are living in nursing homes even though they "don't need that level of care." These people, she explained, would likely be homeless if they were not living in such facilities due to the lack of housing and other supports for them to live independently.

"We just need to make sure that we preserve every dollar, because we don't have anything else in the community mental health system that we can cut without costing the state far more than the cuts," O'Donnell stressed.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:23pm
Thu Jan 8

Progressive Women In Chicago Aldermanic Races To Take Center Stage At Political Forum

Progress Illinois previews an upcoming "Women Against the Machine" town hall meeting featuring progressive female candidates running for alderman in Chicago.

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