* We talked about a nightmarish group home for developmentally disabled people last week. A refresher…
A multimillion-dollar operation under state contract was supposed to be taking care of people with special needs. Instead, its employees are accused of fatally beating two residents and several incidents of abuse. […]
Forty-two-year-old Paul McCann suffered a brutal beating in January. The man called a gentle giant, who functioned at the level of a 6-year-old, was punched, kicked, and struck with a frying pan inside his group home for reportedly taking a cookie. […]
State records obtained by CBS 2, which date back to 2003, reveal 33 cases of Graywood staff abusing residents. Those cases included sexual abuse, physical battery and alleged coercion of residents to attack each other.
Even worse, in 2008, a resident named Dustin Higgins was murdered by staff. That death prompted an internal memo from the Illinois Department of Human Services Inspector General. The memo warned that Graywood residents were at risk amid an increase of serious allegations of abuse and neglect.
* Well, it turns out that the state’s Department of Human Services has known about the problems at that group home for quite a while…
Conditions at the group homes run by the nonprofit Graywood Foundation were “totally unacceptable,” according to a 2009 memo an Illinois investigator wrote to his bosses and the AP obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The memo was written almost a year after murder charges were filed against two employees in the 2008 death of Dustin Higgins, another resident who lived in a Graywood group home. The homes were under intense state scrutiny, and the state eventually stopped them from admitting new residents.
But residents’ families weren’t told about the problems then – or even after state investigators substantiated 18 new allegations of staff abuse and neglect, according to an attorney representing McCann’s family and a state lawmaker working to improve the system.
You just wanna tear your hair out when you read stuff like that.
* Another problem…
While nursing home inspection reports are posted online in Illinois, there’s no similar information on group homes, an alternative to institutional care likely to be used more widely in Illinois after a preliminary settlement was reached this year a class action lawsuit over the civil rights of adults with disabilities.
Rep. Greg Harris is hoping to change that law.
* Meanwhile, here’s something else to make you beat your head against the wall…
Emails flew between the Menard Correctional Center workers’ compensation coordinator and a Central Management Services claims processor, using words like “pandemic” and “flood” to describe hundreds of repetitive trauma claims filed by guards at the Chester prison.
But despite the written concerns of two state workers whose job it was to deal with the rising number of workers’ compensation claims at the state’s largest prison, an investigation only began following newspaper stories a year later.
Those stories by the Belleville News-Democrat detailed $10 million for 500 workers’ comp claims filed by Menard prison employees.
The emails also brought to light that some Menard employees on temporary total disability leave recuperating from surgery to correct a repetitive trauma injury were also getting elective surgery while off work for such things as hernia repair or lap-band surgeries to lose weight.
“Can we do anything about these people, while they are out on work comp, getting nonrelated surgeries?” Zellers asked in an email to Barry H. Wesley, an assistant attorney general who handles workers’ compensation cases.
“This would impede their recovery on the work comp claim and the taxpayers are paying for their time off for nonwork-related medical issues. … What can we do to stop this? Just ridiculous!” Zellers wrote to Wesley, whose job is to handle workers’ compensation claims that either are challenged and/or go to arbitration.
* And if that wasn’t enough…
State hearing officer Kathleen A. Hagan, who recently filed her fourth worker’s compensation claim three days before the deadline, is seeking a settlement for an undisclosed injury.
But the public will not learn — either before or after the claim is settled — how Hagan was injured. The only public reference about her accident on Feb. 13, 2008, is on a state website that simply reads, “knee and leg right.”
That’s because Central Management Services, the large state agency that handles much of Illinois’ state government paperwork, has taken the position that because it is self-insured, virtually all information it receives regarding a claim made under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act can be withheld because it is “proprietary.”
* More joy…
On a summer day in 2008, an Illinois Department of Corrections worker secretly watched as Calvin Landis, who had been receiving weekly total disability payments for five years for a back injury, moved furniture from his front porch, climbed a ladder and power washed his house.
Using a telephoto lens, the observer snapped photos as Landis, 45, a lieutenant on disability leave from a Du Quoin prison boot camp, performed about an hour of work at his home on Birch Road, a few miles from the camp. The photos showed Landis lifting an 8-foot step ladder by a rung with one arm, wielding the power wash spray head and scrubbing aluminum gutters by hand. […]
The photos were submitted to Landis’ supervisors at the Department of Corrections. Internal state agency e-mails obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat showed that corrections department administrators requested an investigation for possible violation of Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission rules.
But no investigation resulted, according to copies of the department e-mails. For the past two years, Landis’ checks kept arriving, according to comptroller’s office documents.