By Roxanne Squires
JOLIET, Ill. — Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials recently held a groundbreaking ceremony at the Joliet Treatment Center (JTC) for a future hospital that will serve both male and female inmates diagnosed as mentally ill.
The JTC is a residential treatment unit that opened in 2017 on the former site of the Illinois Youth Center-Joliet in an effort to address the region’s mental health needs.
IDOC officials cite nearly half of all inmates as having been diagnosed with some form of mental health illness, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
Now, the new $150 million JTC hospital facility will provide 200 beds to meet the most critical needs of the state’s mentally ill inmates, officials said.
More than 400 health care professionals will be employed at the new facility, including doctors, nurses, dieticians, occupational and physical therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists.
The 180,000-square-foot facility will appear and function as a typical hospital and not a correctional facility.
However, the hospital will include different security features to allow for separating inmates or providing care in isolation if necessary.
The facility also has the ability to expand in the future if needed, officials said.
IDOC Director, John Baldwin, stated that the hospital will allow them to meet the critical needs of mentally ill inmates and to operate as a large mental health system.
“The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a national model for mental health treatment in corrections,” said IDOC Director John Baldwin. “An increasing number of individuals with mental illness are being sentenced to us, and we must provide the highest level of comprehensive care possible to ensure their success.”
The IDOC has partnered with the state’s Capital Development Board (CDB) to get the project off the ground. The CDB has already secured the services of two architectural and engineering firms – Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) and Pulitzer/Bogard & Associates, LLC, to complete a programming analysis and preliminary design of the facility.
HDR and River City Construction are the Design-Build team for the project, with HDR serving as the official Architect of Record.
According to Joliet’s Chamber of Commerce, this new Inpatient Treatment Center will ensure the IDOC meets its obligation to provide inpatient beds and programming space for seriously mentally ill offenders, as outlined in the Rasho v Baldwin settlement agreement.
As part of the agreement, the IDOC has opened Joliet Treatment Center, Elgin Treatment Center, and residential treatment units at Logan, Pontiac and Dixon Correctional Centers.
Furthermore, IDOC has increased programming for offenders on the mental health caseload, hired hundreds of additional staff, and implemented staff training on crisis intervention, effective communication, de-escalation techniques, mental health first aid, staff wellness, and more.
The hospital is expected to open in the late summer or early fall of 2021.
Reports from the Chicago Tribune contributed to this story.