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Sometime in mid-April, the Illinois Department of Health will reach a decision regarding the licensing of Albany Care, a mental health facility at 901 Maple Ave. that has drawn concerns from both neighbors and residents of the facility due to purportedly poor management.
Fourth Ward Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma shared this update at a meeting on Thursday, April 14, adding that there’s a possibility that IDPH will revoke the facility’s license.
Nieuwsma said this would not be the optimal outcome because it would mean finding housing for more than 300 people who are currently living in the building, and there are only 19 other facilities like Albany Care in the state, including Greenwood Care, also located in Evanston.
In the meantime, the operators of the facility would have no incentive to provide support to those still in the building, and have every financial incentive to cut costs, he added.
The other possibility is that the facility maintains its license. This isn’t a good outcome either, Nieuwsma said.
“What happens in that case?” he said. “They barely scrape by and continue to suck?”
If the facility does keep its license, the city will apply whatever pressure it can to push Albany Care’s operators to do their jobs well, he added.
Despite recent efforts to contact IDPH, Nieuwsma has not heard an update yet, but was told that a decision would be made by mid-April, he said.
Nieuwsma said he, along with Mayor Daniel Biss, the city’s Human Services Department, the City Manager, and State Representative Robyn Gabel, initially brought Albany Care to the attention of the Illinois Department of Public Health, the licensing authority of the facility.
“When I look at Albany Care I see an example of how things can go totally wrong if you’re not doing it right,” said Nieuwsma.
In an investigation published in December, the RoundTable found that in a 10-week period, the police had been called 113 times from within Albany Care.
Three individuals living within the facility reported feeling neglected and disrespected by staff. They also said the facility is extremely understaffed and that medication is sometimes administered at inconsistent times, or not at all.
During that investigation, Megan Marker, the Senior Vice Presidents of Albany Care’s consultant organization, S.I.R. Management, responded to the claims that the facility is understaffed. She said the facility meets the staffing standards set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In a statement to the RoundTable, Stacy Seals, who worked as the executive director for Albany Care at that time, denied that residents were receiving their medication at irregular times.
The community will be updated on IDPH’s decision as soon as it is announced, Nieuwsma said.