Morrow city councilman's future in question

Slaton moved to rehabilitation center, being treated for Parkinson's Disease

Morrow City Councilman Virlyn Slaton

Morrow City Councilman Virlyn Slaton

— A member of the Morrow City Council recently spent a month and a half in an Atlanta-area hospital, where he received treatment for a major neurological disease.

When Councilman Virlyn Slaton first went into the hospital last month, city officials initially said he was receiving treatment for minor ailments. However, Councilwoman Jeanell Bridges surprised many attendees at the council’s meeting Tuesday when she revealed his condition was much more severe than previously thought.

Slaton participated in votes at the meeting from his hospital bed via telephone. Bridges had to repeat comments he made to the council because his voice was barely audible to members of the audience.

“He said he’s in the hospital with a ‘mild’ case of Parkinson’s Disease,” Bridges told the audience.

The new revelations about Slaton’s health raise questions about whether he will be able to fulfill the remaining 11 months of his term.

His seat on the council is up for re-election in November.

“There’s been some rumblings that Virlyn may not fill out his term but he has not said anything one way or the other on that issue,” said Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke.

Burke said Slaton was released from the hospital Thursday and moved to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta “to rehabilitate his legs.”

Former Mayor Jim Millirons said he has been checking in on Slaton’s condition through City Clerk Evyonne Browning. Millirons and Slaton spent years together on the city council. Millirons was mayor for 16 years until he retired at the end of 2011, and City Council meeting minutes show Slaton has been a councilman for at least a decade.

Millirons said he hasn’t been able to speak directly with Slaton during his hospital stay because the councilman has been unavailable to accept phone calls.

“He was in ICU for a long time,” Millirons said.

Slaton’s participation in this week’s council meeting was a rare event for the governing body. It was the first time in recent years that a council member has cast votes by telephone during a business meeting.

Parkinson’s is a slow progressing neurodegenerative disease that affects a person’s brain. It can result in tremors, muffled speech, decreased reflexes and trouble keeping balance.

It was the 14th-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2011, according to a preliminary mortality report released last fall by the U.S. Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 23,107 Parkinson’s-related deaths across the country that year.