Residential treatment center to close in Cape Girardeau

Residential treatment center to close in Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The Cottonwood Residential Treatment Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri will close.

The closure is a result of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoing a $144.6 million general revenue spending and restricted $641.6 million in general revenue expenditures on Tuesday, June 24 in an effort to put the Fiscal Year 2015 budget back into balance.

Debra Walker with the Missouri Department of Mental Health said there are 23 children and youth currently being treated at the Cape Girardeau location. She said they will continue to care for their current clients until they are ready for discharge or provide ongoing care in another residential setting.

Walker said current employees will receive layoff notices effective at the end of the calendar year with rights as afforded under the state merit system.

Gov. Nixon cited several reasons for why the budget was more than $786 million out of balance.

"As governor, it's my responsibility under the Missouri Constitution to keep the budget in balance by ensuring the spending authorized by the General Assembly does not exceed available revenue," Gov. Nixon said. "These actions are not easy, but they are absolutely essential to putting the budget back in balance and keeping the state on a fiscally responsible path."

According to Walker, Cottonwood first admitted children in 1987.

The treatment center is a residential program designed to meet the emotional and mental health needs of children and adolescents (ages 6-17) who  meet the criteria for severe emotional disturbance.

"It's actually pretty crushing," said Brittney Patrick.

Patrick's 7-year-old son Blake is getting treatment at Cottonwood, and said it really bothers her that the facility is scheduled to shut down.

"My son's been through a lot, so he's been in and out of facilities, hospitals all that, and we finally found somewhere that's close to home," said Patrick.

Patrick said about a year ago, her son started throwing tantrums, banging his head, tossing chairs, and got out of control.

At that point, he was hospitalized.

"They kept upping his medicines every time, Blake was up to almost 27 hundred mg as a 6-year-old a day, he was like a walking zombie," said Patrick.

Finally, they were able to get him into Cottonwood.

"Cottonwood is not about upping his medicine, they're really working with him trying new things, and that's what Blake needs," said Patrick.

"He was having really bad behavior and ever since he got here he's been really good," said Katessa Simmons, Blake's godmother. "They need their parents to be close to them when they're in their treatment."

"I was just wondering where the kids would go you know most of the parents of the kids that are here are in the area, if cottonwood closed down, they would have to go north," said Jeff Beeson Jr,

Beeson's mother has worked at the facility for more than 15 years and he said she was heartbroken to hear the news.

"That would put employees out of business and they would have to search for other places to work," said Beeson.

Brian Biri works at Cottonwood and said he's surprised and disappointed to see the facility close.

"I think the kids that go there that get treatment that really does them some good, and I personally know a few of the kids that went there and got treatment and it really made a difference," said Biri.

It's a difference that will now have to come from somewhere else. Patrick said she doesn't know where that somewhere else will be.

"I don't know what a lot of parents will do, a lot of them would do without Cottonwood," said Patrick.

There is a group petitioning the shutdown. They're asking Gov. Nixon to keep the facility open.

You can join their online petition here, and check out their Facebook here.

A petition has been started to save the facility. Click here to see the petition.

You can check out their Facebook page here.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.