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Bellefontaine closing could cause patients' death

February 21, 2006
By: Hillari Duthoo
State Capital Bureau

Opponents to the closing of Bellefontaine Habilitation Center in St. Louis told reporters Tuesday that moving patients would ultimately lead to their death.

Hillari Duthoo (Doo-thoh) has that story from Jefferson City.

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Bellefontaine is home to hundreds of Missourians with developemental disabilities.

Reports of abuse prompted the governor last year to downsize and eventually close the center despite efforts by legislators to continue scraping together money to keep the facility running.

Jessica Robinson, spokesperson for the governor, says the issue is safety, not funding.

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"This is a center that has had a long history of abuse. It's very difficult for these clients. They certainly - we recognise that each has a very unique circumstance, a very unique and individual need, and that's why this center's not closing overnight."

Relatives of those living in the center say moving patients could disrupt their environment, resulting in death.

From Jefferson City, I'm Hillari Duthoo.