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Monday, October 2, 2017

Illinois Caretakers Charged in Resident's Death at Institution for Men with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

ILLINOIS - Two defendants were set to appear in court today to enter their pleas in the case of the death of a resident at Good Shepherd Manor, a home for men with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Momence.

Daily Journal article by Allison Shapiro | Sept. 28, 2017                                                               
Elizabeth Cook and Heidi Jones were Charles McLaughlin's caretakers on June 11, the day he died after being left in a van on a hot day. Both women have been charged with two Class 3 felony counts of criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident resulting in death. They were scheduled to appear before Judge Kathy Elliott at 9:30 a.m.

A Class 3 felony charge carries a minimum sentence of two to five years. At the judge's discretion, the term can be up to 10 years.

"I reviewed every single document, every single training manual, every report from the paramedics, from the facility, from the sheriff's department, and we believe that the standard of care that a patient should be entitled to in a long-term care facility was not met," State's Attorney Jim Rowe said.

"And as a result, this resident of 40-plus years died. We believe there's a clear connection between their failures and this person's death, and that's what gives rise to these charges."

McLaughlin, 69, who had severe disabilities, was largely nonverbal and had been a resident at the facility for more than 40 years. According to reports, Cook and Jones allegedly left McLaughlin in one of home's vans after a shopping trip. The temperatures that day exceeded 90 degrees, and the official cause of death was heat stress.

A July report from the Illinois Department of Public Health cited systemic failures at Good Shepherd and said the facility "failed to develop and implement policies and procedures documenting protocols to ensure the safety of residents when participating in community outings."

After reviewing the case, however, the State's Attorney's office declined to charge Good Shepherd.

"I don't believe that the facility was deficient in its training," Rowe said. "I disagree with the state's report. Perhaps they didn't have the same documents we had, but I think that Good Shepherd's training program for employees was more than adequate. In this instance I can't fault the facility."

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