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Alderman’s response to nursing home issues

From the 48th Ward e-newsletter:

Alderman Smith Tackles Nursing Home Abuses
For more than 20 years, Alderman Mary Ann Smith has been calling for improvements in nursing homes and an end to housing the mentally ill and felons in the same facility as vulnerable seniors and people with medical problems. Long before the Chicago Tribune series on the state of nursing homes in the City, and in Edgewater and Uptown in particular, she has fought for changes in the industry.

As the problem of warehousing the mentally ill in our neighborhood’s nursing homes, with the attendant impact on public safety in the community, has grown, these efforts have increased.

“Warehousing the mentally ill in our neighborhood’s nursing homes is not a sustainable or ethical way to care for this vulnerable population. The homes are not equipped or choose not to provide the monitoring and treatment these people deserve,” she commented. “Even more, to house convicted felons within facilities that cater to the ill or elderly is totally unconscionable.”

To address the issue, she has taken the following actions:

· Met with the relevant agencies to persuade them to enforce nursing home regulations and monitor how federal funds are spent in these facilities.
· Met with the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to the same end since many nursing home residents are funded through these agencies.
· Repeatedly asked the Illinois Department of Public Health to fine, suspend or revoke the licenses and/or shut down certain nursing homes in the Ward to ensure residents receive the highest quality of care.
· Testified at state hearings into the issue to demand that the state revoke licenses of nursing homes with bad track records and fund quality community care.
· Introduced a resolution calling for hearings about nursing homes in the City Council Committee on Health where the Chicago Commissioner for Public Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health would be questioned about the actions they are taking to improve the situation. The hearing is scheduled for January, 2010.

For more information on this issue, please go to www.ActionUptown.com. If you have any questions or comments, please contact dana@masmith48.org or monica@masmith48.org.

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