From WILL - News Headlines -

Prairie Center Loses State Funding for Detox Center

An Urbana agency that treats victims of drug and alcohol abuse has again lost funding for its detox program, and this time it may be for good.

Prairie Center Health Systems CEO Bruce Suardini said it is doubtful the $450,000 will be restored by lawmakers this fall. In September of 2008, the program shut down for six months before funds were reinstated.

Suardini said the detox program still sees about 750 people per year, and after cutting off referrals Thursday night, he said more addicts won't get the appropriate treatment.

"We watch the clients carefully because it's life-threatening," he said. "So a lot of people who will now probably end up in an ER room will get treated for the day and released. And they really don't have a chance to look at the addiction and get into a long-term care kind of way to combat that addiction."

Cuts to those programs statewide equal 28-million dollars. Suardini says while a number of area legislators would back a supplemental bill to restore that money this fall, it would require 3/5ths majority in each chamber.

"The chances of that happening, and total money being restored in the state of Illinois - I'm just more pessimistic about that because of the volume of things that are on the (General) Assembly's plate," he said. "So I don't see that coming back."

But Suardini said other programs for residential care and outpatient clinics, including one in Danville, will continue to operate. But he said reduced staffing levels means clients will have to be put on a waiting list.

Meanwhile, Suardini said Prairie Center has ended talks with Community Elements in Champaign (formerly the Mental Health Center of Champaign County) about a potential merger. He said state funding mechanisms forced clients to use services separately, and a merger wasn't feasible at this time.

Community Elements CEO Sheila Ferguson says the decision was solely Prairie Center's, and was disappointed the two sides couldn't work something out.