* How can this happen?…
A Chicago psychiatric hospital that treats hundreds of children in state care is under federal and state investigation over safety concerns and alleged sexual assaults, and it may be forced to close if it can’t correct deficiencies.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has investigated 16 allegations of abuse and neglect this year at the Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in the city’s Uptown community, including allegations that children were raped and sexually abused by staff and other patients, physically assaulted and inadequately supervised, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found. […]
In addition to child welfare investigations, the Illinois Department of Public Health has conducted a series of inspections on behalf of federal authorities since July that found the hospital had failed to ensure the safety of suicidal patients, obtain consent before giving patients — including children — powerful medications and sufficiently monitor patients.
Federal authorities have said they will cut off funding that is crucial to the hospital’s operations by the end of November if officials there do not implement immediate changes, according to federal records and court documents. […]
The child welfare agency continues to send children to the hospital, which serves children and adults in two buildings a few blocks apart. Nearly half of the 16 investigations have not been substantiated, and the other cases reflect individual incidents rather than a systemic problem, [Neil Skene, the special assistant to DCFS Acting Director Beverly “B.J.” Walker] said.
“The question for DCFS is whether children are safe there,” Skene said. “Nothing that we are seeing gives us concern for their safety.” […]
The investigations alarmed Meryl Paniak, DCFS’ acting inspector general, who in a confidential memo urged Walker to take action. Paniak wrote that she had “significant concerns for the care and safety of the children” at Lakeshore, according to a copy of the memo obtained by ProPublica Illinois.
The feds are about to shut off funding, the IG is alarmed, but no worries, nothing to see here, move along?
* One more item of note…
At least three of those children had already been cleared for discharge but DCFS had not found them other placements, records show. ProPublica Illinois revealed in June that hundreds of children have spent weeks and even months trapped in psychiatric hospitals as the agency searched for residential treatment centers, foster homes and other placements.