Following is the July 17, 2015 statement of Alberta Walker, vice chair, Home Care Division, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, regarding extreme weekend weather and the care of vulnerable Illinoisans:
“Twenty years ago this week, hundreds of seniors and people with disabilities died in a prolonged heat wave that gripped the Midwest. There were a variety of factors the contributed, but many of the fatalities occurred because of the social vulnerability of the weather’s victims.
“This weekend, we again are facing severe heat and we know home healthcare providers across the state will be taking special measures to ensure the welfare and safety of tens of thousands of Illinoisans. There is no doubt that numerous lives were saved in 1995 and families spared the pain of loss because home healthcare providers were on hand in many homes during those days of stifling heat to give comfort and care to thousands of seniors and people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the services they provide are—at this very moment—being pared back and dismantled by Gov. Bruce Rauner in a way that puts seniors and people with disabilities at risk.
“Twenty years ago, we watched and saw the price paid by populations who are left off the grid because of poverty or disabilities. It would be a grave mistake for Illinois to further tear the safety net now in place to keep these people out of harm’s way.”