From the November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters
Chicago—On Sept. 12, I attended a protest at Alden Village North. Three years ago, state officials vowed to shut the troubled nursing facility down after more than a dozen deaths of children and young adults with severe disabilities. But Alden Village North remains open today after Judge Terry Shafer said that the Ill. Dept. of Public Health had botched its chance to close the home.
Sixteen children and young adults, ranging in age from 10 months to 26 years old, have died at Alden since 2000 in cases that resulted only in citations. In 2011, a month after the state announced plans to shut the home, inspectors reviewed some past deaths at the nursing home and issued citations in four of them. Inspectors said Alden either failed to seek medical help quickly or failed to ensure that a doctor responded to pages promptly.
The Chicago Tribune had been writing about the deaths at Alden Village North since 2000, and followed up in January 2014 after more violations had been discovered. These violations included: dispensing too much medication; not dispensing medications at all; not checking on patients’ conditions in a timely fashion; leaving children soaking wet in their own urine; mildew on a patient from not cleaning up from a tracheotomy tube; and dried feces on the backs of some of the children.
There were about 35 high-spirited people at the demonstration. Some of us held signs that said “Real Homes for Children-Not Nursing Homes,” and “Close Alden North!” We picketed in front of the home and held a rally where several speakers talked about their experiences in nursing homes. We vowed to come back and keep the pressure on until Alden Village North is closed!