Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just Dump 'Em In Uptown.... Again

From the Tribune's "Watchdog" story about Illinois nursing homes mixing dangerous felons with the regular senior population:

As of June, the state had identified 3,000 criminals in Illinois nursing homes who had been convicted of felonies including rape, murder and aggravated assault, health department records show. [...]

Just 50 nursing homes in Illinois house more than half of the 3,000 offenders, according to the Tribune's analysis. In Chicago, many of those homes are clustered in a few ZIP codes in Uptown and on the South Side.

[...] the 50 homes accepting the most criminals typically have the lowest staff levels, even though experts call intensive staffing a critical factor in protecting the vulnerable, a Tribune analysis of federal and state data shows.

Federal reports released in July rated 36 of these 50 homes "much below average" or "below average" for overall nursing staff hours. Two were average; 12 had not yet been rated. None was above average.

Check out the graphic (look where all the blue dots are) and the story.


  1. Crazy. You'd think that at some point the idea that maybe it's not good to lump a bunch of ex-cons together in the same area and in essense create another prison would occur to them. Are they rules against overpopulating an area with ex-cons?

  2. Wow, what an eye-opener. I've been trying to convince my mom to leave the nursing facility where she resides in the suburbs (a pretty good one), and come to Chicago where I can keep better contact with her. Looks like I'd have to do a LOT of "vetting" of facilities before deciding where to place her.

    So far the best ones I've found are the Methodist home at Ashland/Ainslie and the Little Sisters of the Poor residence near DePaul U. Any others, UU'ers?

  3. I guess the WIlson Men's Club doesn't have a monopoly on the market for housing felons & sex offenders in Uptown.

    I searched the Tribune's database for nursing home stats in 60640.


    The link failed a couple times, but some of the Uptown results included:

    St. Martha's Manor on North Racine - 125 residents - 1 sex offender - 5 felons

    Mid-America Care Center on North Kenmore - 258 residents - 25 felons

    Brightview Care Center on North Beacon - 115 residents - 15 felons

    Somerset Place on North Sheridan - 397 residents - 1 sex offender - 62 felons

    Alden Lakeland Rehabilitation on West Lawrence - 201 residents - 15 felons

    Wilson Care on North Hazel - 188 residents - 36 felons

    All American Nursing Home on North Broadway - 141 residents - 1 sex offender - 29 felons

    Margaret Manor on W Cullom - 91 residents - 22 felons

    Bryn Mawr Care on N Kenmore - 172 residents - 18 felons.

    I think all of those are in the 46th Ward, but am not positive. All of the above data is from the Tribune's database search.

  4. The problem of putting predators in nursing homes is longstanding.

    It's similarly stupid to an old policy of classifying drug addicts as being "handicapped" and putting them into highrises designed for seniors. STUPIDITY. They preyed on the seniors, DUH.

  5. Gayle, I have heard very good things about the Methodist Home at Foster & Glenwood. Not sure about the Methodist Home at the other location you mentioned.

    Check here, too.

  6. Hmmmm. Kinda makes you wonder just who's going into the SENIOR HOUSING in Wilson Yard, doesn't it?

  7. It has been my experience that a mentally ill substance abusing population is several times more likely to have criminal history, sometimes a very serious history. But if assessed by Licensed Professionals and living in a highly structured setting where there are significant behavioral expectations; such as group therapy, med compliance and substance avoidance/treatment, many of these offenders can be safe. However, most of the homes in Uptown that I have had personal experience with, do very few of these things. For example I have walked into homes and seen residents in view of staff using drugs and alcohol. That creates a very safe environment in the Nursing Home and the surrounding community. Many Nursing Homes will accept anyone to fill the beds including from state prisons without any assessment being done. Then they will not pay for a qualified staff to supervise the treatment and limit setting that needs to take place with this population.

    But please know that not all nursing homes for the mentally ill are run this poorly. To avoid this owners need to be comfortable discharging anyone who is unable to live in a safe manor while at the facility. They also need to hire Licensed Clinical Social Workers who have extensive history working with this very difficult population.

    All to often problem behavior is allowed to continue or ignored, because the staff does not care or has no idea how to deal with it. As seen outside the front door to many of these facilities. As someone who works in this field it upsets me every time I walk or drive past it because it does not have to be this way. Many of those residents are capable of living in a much more stable manor if they got quality mental health care.

  8. Caring neighbor, I thought the very same thing...but was afraid to go there. I hope our leadership changes before Maryville is rubber stamped!!!

  9. UV, thanks for the post. I've long wondered just how those places were run. A few years back, when Carmen Manor was still open, I saw about 12 of their patients in line for food at the First Free church in Andersonville. I called CM to ask what was going on, and got hung up on.

    It seems that a lot of these places are dangerous and poorly run. They also appear to be funded somewhat through government money, and are for-profit institutions. Based on the donor lists, how much do they contribute to local politicians?

    For all of the classism argued, wouldn't putting the heat on the owners of these places to better manage them help deter some of the problems we have in Uptown?

  10. Nursing Homes are almost always For Profit and usually receive State Medicaid Money to care for these residents.(Our Tax Dollars) As the article stated correctly the State of IL does a very poor job monitoring these homes and tracking problem/criminal behavior. Many times changes in nursing homes take place because the neighborhood becomes upset and raises concerns. My understanding is Mary Ann Smith has become involved with issues at some of the homes in her ward. But Helen has refused to follow up on concerns of neighbors about the crime and behavior taking place. Gotta say, the owners love her for it!

  11. The issues all are especially important to me for a number of reasons… I have a family member living with mental illness and currently residing in an institutional setting. I also wrote a book about health care with one of its chapters focused on helping people select nursing homes for their loved ones. That grew out of my work with people diagnosed with chronic and terminal illnesses.

    Like anything else, there are multiple factors that created this situation and there are multiple avenues to addressing it. Historically and presently, both Chicago and Illinois are in the Dark Ages when it comes to providing care and treatment for people diagnosed with mental illness. I have had friends work in some of these facilities and they have horror stories to tell, but clearly, there are some great facilities out there.

    The system and politics encourage the concentration of these facilities in certain areas and you’ll hear all sorts of advocates and reporters supporting this approach of care for communities like Uptown, but it’s also interesting to note that many of these critics won’t live in these communities. I am all about providing compassionate care, especially because it hits so close to my family. Our experience, however, is that it’s not healthy for any community to take on more of their fair share.

    The reason for encouraging this concentration run the gamut….
    “But it's Uptown's tradition!"
    Chicago and Illinois also have a longstanding tradition of a high tolerance for corruption. Tradition is not an argument.

    “But they were here first!”
    Actually, we’re speaking of a very transit population so they probably weren’t here first, but rights are not dependent on how long one has lived here.

    “But you knew this wasn’t Lincoln Park when you moved here!”
    Lower income families can’t readily pick up and leave when they feel unsafe. Don't they have a right to feel safe? Doesn't everyone have this right?

    “But it’s easier for those in need to have all the services in one spot!”
    Perhaps the underlying truth is that it's more convenient for the social services. There’s a culture of poverty that develops and is fostered when there’s a disproportionate number of people with extensive needs living in one area and it can keep them stuck in this cycle of poverty. Care needs to be more evenly distributed for everyone’s sake, including those needing services.

  12. Gayle, leave your mom in the suburbs. I worked in a nursing home and I found out 3 things:
    1) The nurses are on drugs
    2) The nurses steal drugs that they should be giving to the residents.
    3) the night shift sleeps!

    You all would be surprised to know how many prestigious nurses, the registered nurses-cream of the crop-are getting high. The CNAs are frowned upon but they are usually loyal and hard working, the professional staff members are the ones to watch. I could write a book.

  13. James,
    How about this one.

    It would be unjust to move people dependent on nursing homes or other types of low income or supported housing out of Uptown before creating capacity in other parts of town.

    Get some nursing homes and SRO's built in other neighborhoods on the North side and I'll support you closing down or converting some of the ICF-MI's, nursing homes and SROs in Uptown.

    Good luck with that.

  14. Sean, the concentration of social services is rather complicated and just closing down many of them because there are too many in Uptown would not be ethical. What I would do, and I know some will disagree with this, is do what aldermen in other wards have done, and that is push for better management of these social services.

    Currently, there's no incentive to stop the over concentration of services in various parts of the City and there's every reason to believe that the current status quo will block efforts to change this practice. It's worth exploring the idea of licensing homeless shelters because it's worked well in other cities and it would also allow for a more even distribution of resources throughout a given area. If Chicago can require the licensing of animal shelters, there's no reason why the City couldn't insist the same for homeless shelters for people.

  15. James,
    While I see a lot of services in Uptown, I do not agree with the notion that they are being 'concentrated' here. That seems to denote a deliberate, coordinated plan to locate all the various shelters or services here and I don't believe that is the case. And actually if anything there has been a 'deconcentration' of services in Uptown not an ongoing 'concentration' as a few shelters have closed down or left Uptown in recent years. Breakthrough Urban Ministries had a shelter on Ashland that they relocated to the West side (incidentally very near four other shelters); the Salvation Army center and shelter on Sunnyside has closed; and the Harper House or Center for street people is no more. So I have seen a decrease in capacity in Uptown, not an ongoing increase or further 'concentration'. Really I feel the whole notion that somehow there is a plan or effort to 'concentrate' services in Uptown comes out of people indulging in a sense of victimhood, that they are somehow unfairly put upon by...fill in the blank, whatever systems or politics you are referring to.

    But anyhow, I am glad you find the current number of services or providers in Uptown acceptable and are not advocating for removing any of them, only seeking to better manage those that currently exist and improve their relationship with the extended community.

  16. Sean, off hand I can rattle off around 15 different places that house people with various forms of disabilities and drug dependence within a few blocks of my home.

    Does that mean they're concentrated here?
    I believe yes.

    Does that mean Uptown is a dumping ground for the poor?
    The term "dumping ground" is for garbage. No one is garbage.

    Is having a concentration of social services ultimately in the best interests of those needing these services and the community at large?
    I believe no.

    Does that mean I would want to rush out and close these places?
    Absolutely no.

    Does that mean I would want to work toward a more equitable distribution throughout the city within a reasonable time frame that does not jeoparidize the care of a very vulnerable population?
    Absolutely yes.

    Do I believe the City currently has the motivation to change this current practice?
    I believe what I see.

    Does this mean I want to make Uptown look like Lincoln Park?
    Absolutely no.

    Do I want Uptown to remain diverse, including encouraging more couples with school age children to remain in the neighborhood?
    Why not?