The picture just grows worse as more information emerges about the tragic case of Illinois elder abuse that took the life of Mary Jane Duffy. Our Chicago elder abuse attorneys first discussed this case earlier this week following the arrest of her husband on criminal charges for her mistreatment in Brookfield. However, not only are the shocking allegations a reminder of the potential for abuse at the hands of family members but also the way that public agencies can fail to take action to stop mistreatment.
According to a Riverside-Brookfield Landmark story, various reports were filed by a state agency with abuse allegations–yet nothing was actually done to help the woman until it was too late.
The disabled woman was discharged to her husband’s care from a local nursing home in October of 2009. She apparently feared for her safety at that time. Mary explained to state case workers and administrators for the healthcare agency that she did not want to live with her husband, because he allegedly abused her for years. She preferred to live in the nursing home where she thought she could receive the care she needed to help with her dementia and growing mobility problems.
The woman’s complaints should not have come as a surprise, because there are reports on file dating as far back as 2003 with claims of abuse. The Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Department of Human Services, for example, includes information about various instances of abuse. The reports explain that the man locked his wife in their apartment without phone access, handcuffed her to her wheelchair, physically abused her, verbally abused her, and took away her walker. He allegedly did not want her to move into a care facility because it would mean he would lose access to her income.
So how on earth was Mary released from a care facility and placed back in her husband’s care?
Apparently she was deemed ineligible for services that would have kept her at the long-term care facility. She had ended up in the nursing home originally following an extended hospital stay. That stay was required after she fell because her husband had taken away her walker. Yet, instead of remaining in the facility, an investigator determined that she did not qualify for the state’s “Adults with Disabilities Abuse Intervention Program.”
It remains unclear how her husband was able to the woman home, however, when there was an order of protection against him on Mary’s behalf from 2009. In any event, Mary was released to his custody where she remained for the next nearly two years before her death. She was found after an anonymous tip by authorities. At the time she was curled in the fetal position in the condominium; she was unresponsive and covered in bed sores.
Like the rest of the community our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers are saddened (but not surprised) that this resident could slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, there are many examples of seniors abused in various settings without any relief for those charged with investigating and rooting out the abuse. If you have any suspicions of mistreatment, please consider contacting an elder abuse attorney to share your story.
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