It’s been about two weeks since the Illinois Department of Public Health lifted the restrictions on Albany Care allowing the facility to accept new residents, Jacques Marquis, a community support specialist, told residents at the Fourth Ward meeting Tuesday.
The facility is also trying to be a good neighbor, Marquis said, and plans to construct an outdoor courtyard on the second floor above the main entrance so that smokers wouldn’t congregate in Grey Park, across the street from the building. Albany Care has already applied for a building permit, he said.
But Fourth Ward City Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma expressed frustration with the organization and IDPH for leaving the city out of the loop about Albany Care’s progress addressing the infractions noted by the state.
Albany Care was put on restricted status in the spring. The facility was not allowed to admit new patients until they had submitted a “plan of correction” approved by the state, said Nieuwsma.
While Nieuwsma said he knows this took several attempts before IDPH deemed the plan acceptable, he thinks he and the community should have been shown a copy of the correction plan.
Nieuwsma said he wants a good relationship with Albany Care’s management, its residents and the city, but without insight about ongoing monitoring, it’s problematic.
He has asked Mayor Daniel Biss, the city Corporation Counsel, and Candice Mitchell, the city’s regional long term care ombudsman as well as the state’s Department of Health and Human Services and state Rep. Robyn Gabel to work with him on this issue.
On the phone after the meeting talking about the specific changes that were made, Marquis was vague, saying only that “the state provided Albany Care a list of things they objected to and corrections they wanted. We followed their guidelines to address the infractions.”
When asked about the patients accepted as residents of Albany Care, such as those with criminal records, Marquis said “most if not all of our patients are accepted through the hospital system.” He could not say anything else, he said, due to health privacy laws.
In the interim, Marquis confirmed that residency numbers at Albany Care dropped from more than 400 to less than 230 while the restrictions were in place. The loss is due to natural attrition and patients moving.