SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- Advocates told Illinois representatives Wednesday that their loved ones in long-term care facilities suffer from a combination of social isolation and neglect from employees.
They said employees at facilities need to do a better job at following COVID-19 protocols and implementing their training requirements.
An Elgin native explained 40 of the 88 people living at her husband’s facility tested positive for COVID-19. Patricia Segel also said nine of those residents passed away from complications with the virus.
Segel feels employees at these facilities could be to blame for the outbreak. She also worries staff don’t have proper training. Segel’s husband fell in the middle of the night and slept on the ground since nobody helped him.
“I’m hoping that this committee considers working on staffing issues, developing a ratio based on the needs of the individuals and then looking at the quality of the outcomes,” said Segel.
She feels there is oftentimes a profit motive with facilities, rather than only caring for the well-being of the residents.
“The people who are getting hurt the worst are the seniors”
Rep. Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago) said the long-term care industry is unfortunately all about profit over people. Collins explained some of her first-hand experiences working in a long-term care facility for over 10 years.
“I feel that we continues to give money into this industry for the right intentions, but they continue to find ways and loopholes to pocket that money,” said Collins. “At the end of the day, the people who are getting hurt the worst are the seniors.”
Collins thinks short staffing is the root cause of these problems in facilities. She emphasized residents have been experiencing issues during the pandemic, but facilities aren’t reporting those issues to the state.
However, Becky Dragoo with the Illinois Department of Public Health claimed that information does get reported.
“We are requiring the facilities to report all of the activities dedicated to direct patient care on behalf of certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses,” said Dragoo.
Other advocates agree that staffing is an issue at these facilities. Yet, Carrie Leljedal explained social isolation is still a huge problem for these residents.
“COVID was bad enough,” Leljedal said. “When we get the real data a year or two from now, we are gonna find there were more deaths from isolation and neglect and abuse than there ever was from COVID.”
Lawmakers listened to advocates for several hours on Wednesday morning. They hope to file legislation in response to their concerns.