Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tribune Watchdog: Compromised Care

Chicago nursing homes: Slaying of nursing-home resident in nearby motel shows how violence can spill into neighborhoods

Crimes frustrate Uptown and Edgewater, where a cluster of nursing homes admit mentally ill felons

Read all about it at the Tribune


  1. I spotted this item in the paper this morning. Maybe Daley will be in the ward this morning?

    * Mayor Richard Daley returns to the public stage after a few days off over the holiday. He holds a morning news conference at a North Side senior apartment building to discuss economic stimulus projects and is expected to take questions from the media.*

    I hope a reporter gets him to comment on the Tribune's series on nursing homes. No, its not all the Mayor's fault but he has been mayor for 20 years. He does know a few people in Springfield. More could have been done if there had been political will.

  2. It was the lead story last night after midnight but unfortunately became a watchdog story this morning.

    The system needs fixing within Illinois. I will agree with that one. I also think that concentrating as many senior homes, homeless shelters, methadone clinics, etc in one area is socially irresponsible. We are reaping the rewards of 20 years of poor public planning. She may have originally had good intentions, but soon figured out how to stay in office and is now exploiting the system.

    I just hope the new alderman is much more understanding of the wards needs and not just their own political future.

  3. What to do with the Mentally ill is a huge dillema. They are people with many needs, from proper treatment and managment to basic needs such as living arrangments. Helping these souls is akin in alot of cases to helping the physically disabled, many are crippled with out proper care. This burden is not like the burden of generational welfare, it is not enabling people with means. Without our help they have no means.

    All that being said, grouping them with other demographics of high need such as the elderly should never EVER of been considered.

  4. The state mental health facilities over the past 25 years have been reduced or closed. Elgin Mental Health is a shadow of its former self being reduced by 75 in the number of occupant and secure buildings.

    The state and federal government view putting "murder by reason of insanity" as not a threat any more. It's easier to transition them out into half way houses than to keep those who need constant supervision "in house" My mother works in the forensics division at Elgin and the stories of constant staff reductions and patients walking off grounds is chilling.

    Most of the transitioned patients are shipped to that newly remodeled insecure half way house at Sheridan and Argyle. The people hanging outside smoking could be someone who killed their entire family.

    Feel safe? Thank the State of Illinois for that.

  5. jms60613:

    I seem to remember a few years ago there was this doctor who murdered his wife with an axe. He was actually one of the few who won an insanity defense and was found not guilty. He was at Elgin a few years and then they sent him to Somerset house. I wonder where he is now? Hmmm.

    I found the Trib article interesting. Per the article, 10% of the felons currently residing in state nursing homes can be found in the nursing homes of Uptown and Edgewater. I wonder what that percentage would be if you counted what percentage of the city of Chicago's felon population residing in nursing homes resides in Uptown and Edgewater. The figure is probably 25%.

    Also missing from the article is how many of these felons and mentally ill patients are eventually released to the "community." And what is meant by "ommunity" means the homeless shelters, SRO/flop housing or other subsidized housing of Uptown and Edgewater. Its a viscious circle.

    And Mary Ann Smith's hands are not clean either. Many a day I've walked the Bryn Mawr gauntlet being stopped every 20 feet by the inmates of Bryn Mawr Care panhandling or caging cigarettes. Its disgusting.

    The best thing that can be done with these facilities is to have maximum staffing requirements rather than minimum ones. And if they don't staff up, close 'em down.

  6. Do we get all of these patients because Helen is such an advocate for it? It's fine that these homes are in our neighborhood but they need to be held accountable for their patients. If they are not to leave the building unattended, enforce that rule and all of the rules!!!

  7. "Nowhere is that more true than the lakefront communities of Uptown and Edgewater, which contain the state's densest concentration of mentally ill and criminal nursing home residents"

    We get the most of everything up here. (except straight answers).

    Thanks Helen!

  8. Quite frankly, there is a really big problem with the mental health treatment, substance abuse, and "medicaid only" nursing care facilities generally. There needs to be increased regulation and strict penalties for actors who don't take care of these weak individuals and harm our neighborhood in the process. In my experience, the IDPH has done nothing to protect residents, housing court is an absolute joke, when money is wasted no attempt is made to reimburse the taxpayers or even portions of fees paid directly by the folks that didnt get the service we paid for and the vulnerable need. And don't look to your social service agencies to protect these folks either, because many have been placing these folks in horrible situations which were obvious if someone just took a look.

    I am not aware if any of the owners of these facilities, by and large, are residents of this area. By bearing far more than our fair share of everyone's burden we should be entitled to expect that these facilities be excellent neighbors. After all, there aren't any in Andersonville (and the All-American is on Broadway).

    There are good operators of SROs such as the one at 6018 N. Winthrop so it can be done and the filings of at least some of the nursing facilites (i haven't looked at the Somerset) seem to indicate that this is a profitable business. Regulations need to be tightened to ensure that care is given and that payments are appropriate based on the level of work required to achieve the care required to treat. Additional measures need to be in place to require that treatment be based upon a return to society if these facilites are treating those who are in their 30s.

    Those who have no folks watching need to have someone step up and watch. Because if it doesn't happen, the same issues will occur time and time again. Also remember that the vulnerable have the most to lose so they tend to not stand up for themselves-so there needs to be "medicaid only" folks to notice and watch.

  9. The big waadiddly so to speak with the mental care is that most, and in some cases, all of the referals to a building will not only have significant mental issues but will also have a serious alcohol and/or drug program. Couple that with the fact that the patient, even a mental patient, is entitled to determine how much substance or mental care to take, if any at all and hey the partay is getting started.

    Social service agencies, specifically Heartland Housing(yes, Heartland or Heartless), Thresholds, and C4 have placed at least a third (I think its upwards of 50 pct or more) in some SROs where management didnt think they needed to check on hotel guests every week or so. They knew the buildings werent appropriate as did the owners. And the bad building becomes a drug source and loud nuisance but hey the owners and agency folks live elsewhere.

    There can be no more than 3 of these referals per each 50 unit bldg. Well intentioned landlords can become overwhelmed and thats not everyone.