Published on:

Chicago Foster Children Allege Multiple Sexual Assaults at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital

A Chicago psychiatric hospital responsible for treating children in state custody with the most serious psych conditions is facing serious allegations of sexual assault from its patients.

Chicago Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, located in the city’s Uptown neighborhood, has served as a lifeline for Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), taking foster children with psychiatric issues that other hospitals just wouldn’t treat. Since at least 2008 DCFS has been aware of incidents of loose supervision of its young patients, resulting in sexual abuse and assault by fellow residents and even staff. A government agency created to protect the safety and welfare of our children not only knows about these cases of abuse and neglect, but for at least 10 years have allowed these problems to persist, continuing to send children entrusted to their care to the hospital.

Allegations of sexual assault and abuse at the hospital reached a fever pitch this year. According to ProPublica, there have been 16 allegations of sexual and physical abuse and neglect against the hospital since January, including 2 allegations of sexual assault against the same 7-year-old girl. The girl alleges that on separate occasions, a 12-year-old fellow patient and an employee digitally penetrated her. Of these 16 allegations, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) found enough evidence to support 4 cases and are currently investigating 5 others. There was not enough evidence to substantiate the other 7 allegations.

As of late October, there were currently 18 children in DCFS custody being treated at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.

 

Hospital May Lose Medicare Funding This Month
IDPH is given licensing and regulatory authority over state psychiatric facilities, including the power to recommend revocation of Medicare and Medicaid certification. Through 3 regularly scheduled annual inspections, IDPH found significant flaws in the facility, as well as in the care and supervision provided. These findings are in addition to the 16 allegations of sexual and physical assault and abuse that have been unearthed by IDPH since January. Some of IDPH’s 2018 inspection findings include:

  • Numerous suicide risks including faulty doors and dangling phone cords
  • Giving children antipsychotic medications without informed consent
  • Failure to conduct a rape kit on a minor patient who alleged sexual assault

These findings led officials to recommend revoking the hospital’s Medicare and Medicaid funding, effective 9/28. In a last minute federal court filing, the hospital submitted a motion to extend the deadline, providing evidence that they had replaced doors and phones, as well as correction plans that detailed their plans to strengthen patient supervision and care. The deadline was extended twice more, and the third and latest extension has a deadline of 11/30. This means the hospital must provide sufficient proof that they have responded to all of the violations found by IDPH and have taken steps to fix problems.

Both Chicago Lakeshore Hospital and DCFS are desperate to keep Medicare and Medicaid. This year, 80% of the hospital’s reimbursements come from Medicare/Medicaid, meaning the hospital needs it to keep the doors open. DCFS also needs the facility to keep its doors open: the hospital accepts foster children that other hospitals turn down. ProPublica found that 41% of the 1,100 children and teens treated at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in 2017 were in state care.

What’s Next for the Children at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital?
DCFS has said that they stopped sending children there as of this month and have also agreed to an independent review of the facility. However, Charles Golbert, Cook County’s acting public guardian, told ProPublica that instead of multiple reviews by state and federal agencies, children at the facility would be best served by one independent review. He says giving DCFS any involvement in a review would be a conflict of interest. However, a 2010 review of the facility by an independent team hired by DCFS did find allegations of sexual assault and neglect stemming from improper staff supervision.

Last Wednesday, two high ranking Chicago City Council members asked for a hearing into the latest allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the hospital, saying that it falls under their authority to investigate what’s happening to children in the state’s care.

For now, the public waits to hear what will happen next. On November 30th, the hospital may lose its funding and be forced to shut its doors permanently. Or perhaps another extension will be granted or even dismissed, provided the hospital submits enough evidence of improvement.

The children at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital are another story. Many of those who reside there have been medically cleared for discharge, but DCFS uses the hospital as a holding facility of sorts. With nowhere else to house them, DCFS often relies on the hospital to continue caring for children that are their responsibility. Should the hospital’s doors permanently close, foster children may be left without anywhere to go.

This should not be happening. Children shouldn’t be forced to stay in a hospital because our system has nowhere better to put them, and the hospital responsible for their care should never, ever allow incidents of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or attempted suicides to happen. Our children deserve better.

 

Levin & Perconti: Experienced Lawyers, Proven Results
Levin & Perconti, located in downtown Chicago but representing clients against assisted-living facilities and medical facilities and hospitals across the state, are committed to securing justice for the most vulnerable in society: patients, whether youth or elder, relying on facilities such as Chicago Lakeshore Hospital to care for them. Breaching that trust, whether through staff neglect or abuse or abuse or assault by a fellow patient, is one of the worst violations a human could ever face.

If someone you love has been abused, neglected, or assaulted while a resident in a psychiatric facility, hospital, assisted-living facility, or nursing home, contact our personal injury attorneys now at 312-332-2872 or complete our online case evaluation form for a free consultation. Our firm has represented families just like yours throughout Illinois, in cases against both major facilities and small, including several cases against Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.