Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More On Felons In Uptown's Nursing Homes

From a companion piece to the Trib's report yesterday on concentrating felons in nursing homes in Uptown:

Consider the cases of two offenders recently admitted to Somerset Place, a home with about 400 beds in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. The facility housed 62 felons in June, state records show.

Clifton Pickett, 34, in May was termed a moderate risk; the assessment noted his convictions for theft and several drug-related offenses.

But separate court and prison records, easily gathered by the Tribune, show the evaluation failed to catch that Pickett had been arrested 30 times since 1992 and convicted for gun possession, burglary and the mugging of a 79-year-old Chicago man. The assessment also did not mention that Pickett had been arrested on three crack cocaine-related charges during previous stays at Somerset in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Lola Thomas, 47, was admitted to Somerset in November 2008 but not screened for six months, despite a rap sheet showing at least 70 arrests and 19 convictions for crimes including battery, prostitution and narcotics possession.

By the time her assessment was completed, in May, Thomas had hit one resident in the head, threatened others and "been suspected of drug use," her risk assessment report said. She, too, was deemed a moderate risk.

In a statement, Somerset said it works to "maintain a safe environment while providing an opportunity for these residents to improve their lives."

Read the entire article, "A Failure To Protect," here.


  1. At a CAPS meeting I attended a little while back, the topic of nursing home residents came up, and that they were using some sort of a monthly stipend (maybe their social security checks?) to "score rock", which I assume to be crack. Based on these articles, it seems the way that these places are run help feed the drug culture in Uptown. What pressure (if any) could the Alderman, state reps, etc bring to get these places cleaned up? I have a feeling if I look at the money lists, that they are probably large contributors to the incumbents.

  2. Clifton Pickett, 34, in May was termed a moderate risk; the assessment noted his convictions for theft and several drug-related offenses

    That would seem to be one of the absolute WORST combinations of crimes that a person could have and be sent to a nursing home to live. A guy with what appears to be a drug habit and a penchant for stealing? In a home with vulnerable seniors? Yeah, great, let's send him there. WTF?

  3. When I use to run the thrift store on Sheridan almost everyday my security would catch shoplifters that when the police came and ran their information most had records and came from Somerset Place. They say they work to provide a safe environment and opportunity to thier residents. How about the residents that have to live around Somerset and have to deal with the crimes that somerset residents do on a weekly basis.....

  4. I wonder what percentage of Uptown crime comes from residents of the Wilson Men's Hotel.

  5. Forget contacting the alderbeast. This is her voter base. Contact Greg Harris and Steans.

  6. Freddie, residents of nursing homes almost all recieve SSI or Soc. Sec. disability, of which the nursing home keeps all but $30 a month. And certainly the residents on crack can use that $30to score rock if they choose. But even those not on drugs do a lot of panhandling in the neighborhood to supplement that $30 a month of spending money.

    buenapk....and what exactly should Shiller or the other pols supposed to do about this? Is Sommerset even in Shiller's ward? There is a state agency that is supposed to have oversight over these homes, I don't believe it is under the purview of aldermen. Are aldermen expected to review the cases of each person placed into any nursing home in their ward and have final say over it? (I know, I know, the real issue is to use anything and everything to rip on Shiller)

    The real problem is that there are no appropriate places for these types of mentally ill people and mentally ill ex-offenders and\or substance abusers to go once they have done their time in jail or been discharged from a mental ward. It is doubtful they could live independently and if they did it would be at some place like the Wilson Men's club, which of course would spare the seniors in these homes, but do nothing to ameliorate the inappropriate behaviors of these residents.

    The only solution would be to fund dozens or even hundreds of group homes with 24 hr supervision by mental health clinicians specifically for mentally ill substance abusers. And obviously that is not gonna happen. There are a few of these type of facilities, but not enough and while everyone wants something done about these inappropriate nursing home residents, no one is gonna support what is needed to properly house them.

    Say the state does force all nursing homes to expel any non senior resident, who are mostly there due to a serious mental illness. The question without a solution is where are these people supposed to go? I AM NOT ADVOCATING THEY STAY IN NURSING HOMES. I am only pointing out that the state and the city do not have adequate resources and services to provide for the needs of this population typified by Clifton and Lola, who, while the article does not state it, probably are also schizophrenic or have bipolar disorder (non-disabled people under 62 with criminal records and drug problems do not get placed in nursing homes. Medicaid only covers the nursing home expenses for such people if they are disabled).

    And by the way there is a relatively new Federal and State grant called Money Follows the Person which is designed to move disabled people out of nursing homes and into independent housing in the community with case management support. But the people for this program would need the ability to live independently in the community, i.e. be able to take care of an apartment on their own with a little support from a caseworker and be a good neighbor to the other building residents. It doesn't seem like Clifton and Lola would be good candidates for this project.

    So what are people's solutions? I mean besides just move them out of Uptown.

  7. Somerset Place, Grasmere and Wilson Care work entirely with a Substance Abusing/Mentally Ill Population. The residents these three homes, and most others that specialize in mental health care, serve is a much younger ambulatory population. However, there remain many residents living there that are at risk of becoming victims, regardless of age. Neighbors are also at risk for the crimes that these residents could commit. As someone who works in the field of mental health care there is no room for allowing these criminal behaviors in a treatment setting, or allowing someone who commits crimes to return to the facility to live. If these facilities want to provide a structured living environment, a community pass system needs to be part of it. If someone has a drug history or has not been active in treatment for several weeks, they should not be assessed to be safe to spend time unsupervised in the community. But as I have said before many of the owners of these settings are not concerned with treatment, or hiring the professionals who can complete legitimate assessments. They are more concerned about the profit from keeping their facility full. This often means allowing residents to do whatever they want just so they will not leave. Including leaving to buy drugs and then bringing them back to the facility.

    If you are a neighbor of these facilities I recommend demanding meetings with the owners and ask them about their staff and the assessments that are done prior to admission. Demand that anyone arrested for crimes be discharged and that ownership attend CAPS on a regular basis. Heather Steans would be a good person to contact with concerns. She discussed her concern about these homes in a meeting with Buena Park Neighbors earlier in the month. But many posters are correct, the Nursing Home Owners in IL give tons of money to political leaders.

    As someone with many years of experience it is my opinion that people with serious mental health and substance abuse issues need structure and limits set by the community. In other words having mental health issues should not be used as an excuse if they commit crimes. As a community we need to encourage them to get help but we also need to set limits and many times the police and courts should be used to assist with those limits.

  8. "The only solution would be to fund dozens or even hundreds of group homes with 24 hr supervision by mental health clinicians specifically for mentally ill substance abusers. And obviously that is not gonna happen."

    Sean, I'm going to go back to the corporations that run these places. If they are taking all of the ss checks, state funding, money from the families, run a substandard and dangerous environment, AND turn a profit?

    There is the problem, it seems. So my proposed solution is not to chase everyone out of Uptown, but to put the magnifying glass on these nursing homes ne mental institutions. I think the pols in the area could definitely have an impact on that - play hardball with the proprietors. Do they own the buildings?

  9. SEAN! Please read more carefully before you advocate throwing more $$ at a serius problem. As I said, "DON"T" contact Shiller. She is too busy spending the latest TIF funds of $54M building fish farms and enlarging facilities at Truman: a school with dwindling enrollment, almost 0 graduates, a hot spot for drug dealing + selling her bonged self to da mare.

  10. Truman has "almost 0" graduates? Really? Did you attend the ceremony in the springtime and see nobody there? Inquiring minds want to know. Including my friend who once graduated from Truman and went on to Northeastern.

  11. Truman's enrollment seems as if it's at it's all time high! And 0 graudates? Let's speak the truth people. Stop makin things up!