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Elder Care a Ticking Time Bomb in Illinois?

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Chicago, ILA troubling elder care story coming out of Chicago underscores concern over nursing home neglect and related issues in Illinois. As the investigation continues, elder care law will be tested.

In August, a dementia patient was beaten by a fellow resident at Columbus Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, located on Chicago's West Side. Andres Cardona, 72, was repeatedly punched in the head after he wandered into the room occupied by Ardyce Nauden, 62. The latter claimed that the older man began eating Nauden's lunch. Cardona has since died.

Nauden was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a senior citizen, but now prosecutors are considering an upgrade of those charges.

The fact that Nauden, who has a history of drug convictions and aggressive behavior, was housed in the nursing care facility in the first place is demonstrative of the state's reliance on nursing facilities to house felons and younger mentally ill adults, according to a November 13 story in the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune reports that it made a request in October to the Illinois State Health Department for all records of assault allegations at Columbus Park during the previous 90 days. The newspaper reports that the state initially claimed that it had none.

However, the Tribune continued to press. It was only after repeated inquiries that the Health Department located records of Cardona's beating as well as two other alleged batteries.

Chicago police, however, reported no fewer than 11 alleged batteries inside the Columbus Park facility during the same 90-day period.

Cardona is one of three residents whose deaths are being investigated as potential homicides in the state of Illinois during the last 18 months. Equally troubling is a series of alleged stabbings, rapes and assaults inside state nursing homes that have been uncovered by reporters at the Chicago Tribune.

Columbus Park spokesman Ron Nunziato cautioned that some police reports about alleged batteries that did not actually result in "substantiated harm," or that involved staff and not residents, and thus did not have to be reported to state health authorities.

"Columbus Park provides quality health care, (and) staff take every opportunity to ensure that residents are safe," Nunziato said. "There are sometimes incidents beyond our control."

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