Elected officials to host roundtable on Chicago’s longterm care oversight program
Coalition to Strengthen the Ombudsman Program: Christea Parent,
After securing a commitment from Governor Pritzker’s office to fully staff Chicago’s public long-term care ombudsman program, State Representative Kelly Cassidy and Alderwoman Maria Hadden are partnering with the Institutional Rescue and Recovery Coalition to present a roundtable discussion with ombudsmen, nursing home residents, and grassroots organizers on the importance of the win and why this program deserves continued support.
The commitment comes after a months-long campaign to halt requests for proposals and to fill all vacancies in the ombudsman program, which remained understaffed by 50% during the pandemic.
The Institutional Rescue and Recovery Coalition, a collective of senior and disability rights advocates created in response to how COVID-19 has affected long-term care facilities, holds a weekly Resident Advocacy group to discuss current issues among residents.
It was in these meetings where member residents caught word that their ombudsman, with whom they had developed strong relationships, was at risk of losing their job. Ombudsmen were some of the only people allowed into facilities during lockdown procedures and have often acted as the only advocate for residents during these times of intense loneliness and isolation.
Residents found this news unacceptable and pushed to keep the program housed under the Department of Family Support Services and to fill the five positions left vacant during the pandemic immediately.
Now with the Governor’s commitment to fill the vacancies and keep the program public, those who fought for this commitment want to make sure that legislators and the public understand the importance of the ombudsman program, as well as other pressing issues affecting long-term care facilities, whose residents make up almost half of all COVID-related deaths in Illinois.
The roundtable discussion, which will be held on Tuesday, July 27th at 6 pm on Zoom, will feature testimony from two current nursing home residents and their ombudsman, as well as thoughts from Rep. Cassidy, Ald. Hadden and community organizers on how to continue to strengthen oversight and accountability measures in long-term care facilities. CART captioning will be provided.