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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Children Living and Dying in Illinois Nursing Homes: Access Living Takes Action!

as shared by Access Living (CIL) of Chicago

Access Living friends and allies:

The below message from Access Living's Healthcare Organizer Tom Wilson recaps direct action taken today by the Taskforce for Attendant Services, with support from Access Living's Power to the People organizing coalition:


On this cold and rainy day in September we had 35 disability activists show up at Alden Village North, a nursing home for children, to let them know that institutional segregation for children is not acceptable.  This action came out of the planning retreat that the Taskforce for Attendant Services and the Independent Voices groups had back in August to develop this campaign.  We were joined by all of the Access Living advocacy groups under the Power to the People umbrella.  We had thought 3 years ago that we had succeeded in closing down Alden Village North.  We had worked with other advocates for seniors then because Alden is not only known for neglect and violations of the Nursing Home Care Act, it is also known to have racist practices.  This chain of nursing home has some 4 star nursing homes in the suburbs but has many 1 and 2 star nursing homes in communities where most residents are African-American.  However it was the horror of seeing children die from neglect in this nursing home that had motivated us to do a protest at the Alden nursing homes corporate headquarters 3 years ago.
Access Living is involved in drawing attention to these nursing home issues because we want the state to spend more money on quality home and community services and to stop segregating people with disabilities in institutions.  There were news stories in the Chicago Tribune about Alden Village North as early as 2010. The stories revealed that 13 children and young adults had died there since the year 2000.  The state had levied fines of $190,000 for violations but had only collected $21,450.  In 2011 the state moved to close the Alden Village North facility.  The Governor’s health policy advisor, Michael Gelder, was quoted as saying, “We don’t want another tragedy to occur.”    Among the children and young people who died there: Brian Marrero (2), Kyle Prior (24), Demetri Franklin (10 months) and Ke’shaun Miller-Harris (6).  But the state failed to close Alden Village North on a legal technicality.  In January 2014 the Tribune followed up on the story.  They found that there had been more violations. Records also showed that there had been five additional deaths occurring between 2009 and 2013, and while fines of $20,000 were levied they were later reduced to only a $10,000 fine on the owner.

It was a determined group of people with disabilities that turned out today to reignite the campaign to close Alden Village North.  While some people called and said they couldn’t risk coming out in the rain there was indeed a powerful showing of people chanting: “Children are dying, Shame on you!”  or “What do we want?  Close Alden Now!” and “Children need love, Not nursing homes.”

We passed out fliers with our demands and spread our banner so all the cars on Sheridan Road could see what it said, “People with disabilities think, nursing homes stink.”  We had these demands:
·         Close Alden Village North
·         Strengthen Home Services for families with children with disabilities
·         Rebalance Long Term Support Services to emphasize and fund community living, not institutional segregation

This was the first action of this round but there will be more.  We will continue to tell the public and state officials that children with disabilities deserve REAL Homes and do not belong in Nursing Homes!  We hope you will join us as we keep the pressure on to close Alden Village North and make it possible for these children to grow up to be strong, confident and independent people living in the community and not condemned to a whole life of institutionalization.  Free our people! 
We have protested before to close this facility that has failed to care for the children that stay there.



Photos from the action are also available on Access Living's Facebook page.

For Access Living: http://www.accessliving.org/
Address: 115 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone:(312) 640-2100

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