|July 12, 2005|
MADIGAN, IDPH, LAWMAKERS, LOCAL OFFICIALS APPLAUD SIGNING OF NEW LAW THAT WILL FURTHER PROTECT RESIDENTS OF STATE-LICENSED NURSING HOMES FROM PAROLEES AND SEX OFFENDERS
MADIGAN, IDPH TO NOTIFY NURSING HOMES OF SEX OFFENDERS,
EVERGREEN PARK, Ill – Just a little more than a month after the closure of the Emerald Park Health Care Center for alleged gross mismanagement, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Dr. Eric Whitaker, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), lawmakers and local officials hailed a brand new state law that will help ensure vulnerable elderly, disabled and mentally ill residents in state-licensed nursing homes are properly protected from sex offenders and other felons living in the facilities.
Speaking at a morning news conference, Madigan said the Vulnerable Adults Protection Act, signed into law by Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Sunday and effective immediately, was drafted by her office in response to specific problems found within the Emerald Park nursing home, located in Evergreen Park, as well as news reports that revealed more than 100 sex offenders were residing in licensed nursing homes across the state. The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Jim Brosnahan (D-Evergreen Park) and in the Senate by Sen. Ed Maloney (D-Chicago).
To ensure that nursing homes are aware of convicted felons living in their facilities and of the requirements of this new law, Madigan’s office and IDPH are sending letters to operators of long-term care facilities in Illinois identifying any registered sex offenders or parolees from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) that are currently residing in the facilities. Across the state, 86 registered sex offenders currently reside in 51 facilities and 86 convicted felons reside in 56 facilities. Madigan said her office and IDPH also will notify all 1,170 licensed long-term care facilities in Illinois about their new responsibilities under the law.
The Vulnerable Adults Protection Act requires that IDPH create new rules, within 30 days after the bill is signed into law, providing a mechanism for the identification, risk assessment, care planning, treatment and discharge of violent offenders, including sex offenders.
“Our family members, friends and loved ones living in nursing homes already belong to a vulnerable population. It is unacceptable to put them at risk,” Madigan said.
Madigan continued, “In Illinois, there are more than 100,000 residents of licensed long-term care facilities. They must be protected and allowed to live in a climate of safety and security, not fear. This legislation helps ensure that will be a reality, not an illusion.”
Under the new law, IDPH is required to draft emergency rules that (1) detail how the requirements of the Act should be implemented; (2) provide a process and protocol for the identification of registered sex offenders in nursing home care; and (3) mandate subsequent reporting of their location to IDPH. The emergency rules were filed by IDPH yesterday, July 11.
“With the filing of the Department’s emergency rules, long term care facilities can begin immediately to afford all their residents the protections of this important statute,” said Dave Carvalho, IDPH Deputy Director. “Having registered sex offenders and other felons living in nursing homes, without the knowledge of fellow residents, family members and visitors, presents a threat to the public health and safety and warrants emergency rulemaking.”
“This important legislation will bring about fundamental changes to the way that nursing homes operate in the state of Illinois. These changes will make nursing homes and the surrounding communities safer places. We have to do everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable citizens and this legislation accomplishes that,” Brosnahan said.
“This law will result in a safer environment for both the residents of the long-term care facilities and the residents of the communities where these homes are located,” Maloney said.
“This long-time public nuisance for the people of Evergreen Park and the surrounding communities was, for many years, a constant struggle to get closed,” Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said. “I thank Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Dr. Eric Whitaker, State Representative Jim Brosnahan, State Representative Kevin Joyce, and State Senator Ed Maloney who were also very instrumental in helping with this closure.”
Evergreen Park Police Chief Michael Saunders and Donna Ginther from AARP also were expected to attend the news conference.
Madigan said the Vulnerable Adults Protection Act puts in place a process for the identification and management of convicted felons residing in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, and provides for notification to other residents of the facilities.
The new law amends the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and the state’s Code of Corrections to ensure the safety of senior citizens and other adults who live in nursing homes.
In Illinois, approximately 100,000 adults reside in licensed long-term care facilities. Madigan said this population must be protected from residents who, because of their criminal history, may pose a risk of harm. With this new law, the intake process for residents of long-term care facilities for the first time will take into account an offender’s criminal history and the corresponding risk he or she may pose to the vulnerable adults in these facilities.
Madigan said licensed facilities will now be prohibited from accepting a sex offender or an offender on parole, probation or court-ordered supervision, unless the facility has complied with the new provisions. Licensed facilities also will be required to provide written notification to residents of the facility when a sex offender or parolee resides in the home. Finally, the new law amends the Nursing Home Care Act to allow access for law enforcement to residents who are sex offenders or are under supervision to ensure compliance with the terms of the Sex Offender Registration Act and any parole or probation conditions.The Vulnerable Adults Protection Act also amends the Code of Corrections to require that IDOC provide critical information – including sentencing orders, social investigations, evaluations, reports of disciplinary infractions and parole plans – to the licensing agency when a parolee becomes a resident of a state-licensed facility during his or her parole. IDOC also will be required to provide written notification to the police chief and sheriff of the municipality where the home is located, as well as the licensing state agency – IDPH, Department on Aging or the Illinois Department of Public Aid – whenever a parolee is a resident at a home in their jurisdiction or under their agency.
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