Investigations continue into death at Oak Park nursing home

Harlem Avenue facility is poorly rated by federal agency


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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

An Oak Park nursing home where an 80-year-old resident died Tuesday of head trauma has consistently received one-star ratings on a five-point scale from a federal agency which rates nursing facilities. Another resident of the facility is believed to be connected to the death of the 80-year-old.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health said Wednesday that her agency was last at Oak Park Healthcare, 625 N. Harlem Ave., in late November when it completed an investigation sparked by a citizen complaint. A response from the facility to the agency in that instance said weekly audits would be implemented to ensure the risk levels of certain patients were noted on their care plans.

IDPH representatives are currently at the facility and will likely be on site through this week, said Melaney Arnold, a spokesperson. She said it could take two weeks before they can release their findings to the public.

Complaints about Oak Park Healthcare to the department have been consistent since 2001. However, Meyer Magence, who is listed as the agent of Oak Park Healthcare Center, LLC, called incidents from the early 2000s "ancient history."

"Anything can happen at any time," he said. "No nursing home has 1-to-1 care."

Currently IDPH and Oak Park police are conducting separate investigations into the death of Anibal Calderon.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Calderon's death a homicide caused by cerebral cranial hemorrhaging due to blunt force trauma, according to a statement from Oak Park police. Calderon was a patient in the facility's Alzheimer/dementia ward, and a 66-year-old patient in the same ward is believed to have been involved in his death.

Calderon died at Rush Hospital in Chicago around 1 a.m. Tuesday. He was found unconscious with a head injury by a nurse at the facility, 625 N. Harlem Ave., and police were called at about 8:40 p.m. Sunday. Oak Park Police Commander LaDon Reynolds said the call came in as a battery, but could not give additional details Wednesday about the investigation.

IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said she did not know when IDPH officials last conducted a scheduled inspection of the facility, but department records show the last complaint investigation survey was completed Nov. 29.

It's unclear if other complaints from a survey completed earlier that month were addressed. Those included verbal mistreatment by an employee to a patient, failure to implement the facility's abuse policy during pre-employment screening and failure to supply phones to every resident, among others.

The facility's administrator, Helen Lacek, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

IDPH records from 2010 show the facility has 204 beds and 157 residents. The facility has been fined thousands of dollars at least a handful of times since 2001. In one incident, it took 75 minutes for a resident's seizures to be controlled by paramedics. In another, a resident allegedly sexually assaulted another resident.

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Posted: February 21st, 2012 12:12 PM

There is plenty of abuse that happens at the hands of family with the elderly. Stop your nonsense.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: February 21st, 2012 12:03 PM

SG from Oak Park, your wrong. No one is going to come along and care as much as the children of parents do, and vice versa. There is no best care "Facilities", to shove your parents in. What happened to the, "It takes a Village to raise a child". Reverse that so an aging adult can also be taking care by a Village. We don't have the respect or care that other countries have for elderly.

Euthanasia Guy  

Posted: February 20th, 2012 9:17 PM

Never fear, Obamacare Death Panels are coming in a few years.


Posted: February 20th, 2012 7:25 PM

Nursing Home Homicide.,0,486912.story

Violet Aura  

Posted: February 17th, 2012 11:27 AM

@JA: Wouldn't it be cheaper for the adult child to have the parent move in and hire CNAs or home health aides to take care of the parent? Even at $100 a day, it would be way cheaper!

JA from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2012 8:50 AM

So true SG. I was talking with a friend last night whose father in law is in a facility that costs $8,000 per month. The facility is all private pay, no public aid. Families with loved ones in this facility still hire private duty care takers in addition to the regular staff. Even then unfortunate events take place and residents do not always get the best care. Yes, gunthersgrades, it will take a huge amount of effort to make the changes necessary.

SG from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2012 7:16 AM

Tragic and unfortunate incidents like this happen not only at the lowest tier of care giving, but also at the highest levels. Google "Verne Gagne" or "Helmut Gutmann". from River Forest  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 6:06 PM

Very sad all the way around -- it takes involvement from everyone to raise the standard of care in a facility -- as long as we keep an arms length and view these facilities as a place to 'lock away' our elders, they will be neglected or receive substandard care. They deserve dignity, respect and we, the community, the government, the legal system, the medical community all need to get involved and care to make a difference.

SG from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 2:15 PM

To JA: I agree totally; it's the hardest decision a family has to make. To Q from Oak Park: I suggest changing your moniker to AH from Oak Park. Or maybe MF from Oak Park. Or how about JO from Oak Park.

JA from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 12:39 PM

And, finally, the cost of quality long term care is on average $5,000 per month and is private. Most of us nor our parents have that kind of money. What monies one does have must be spent down and then the state will step in. State reimbursement to long term care facilities is dismal at best and therefore there is never enough staff to provide the care we would all want for our loved ones. I wish I had an answer that would answer all of these problems. They are complex beyond comprehension.

JA from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 12:33 PM

This incident is very sad. There are several problems here. Since longer term psychiatric facilities were phased out decades ago, many of our untreated mentally ill wind up homeless, in prison, and in nursing homes. Further, I had to make the decision to place my mother in a nursing home AFTER moving her into our home. The decision and its repercusions literally nearly killed me. Until you have to walk the walk, keep the talk to yourself.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 11:11 AM

Galen Gockel from Oak Park, there is always so called investigations into nursing homes, but the problem is, no one knows what to do with the people who are dumped into the nursing home, so the results are not to address with the problem, and just pretend everything is fine, because they aren't going to be dumped into a nursing home.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 11:10 AM

Wondering, I'm sure it was very difficult for your friends to dump their parent/parents into a dumping ground. What was the problem? Not enough room in their home? Are the just to busy with the kids and work? Families take care of families, they don't dump them saying it was the hardest decision, and then forget them. There are just a very few nursing homes that could qualify as being decent. As for us being friends, the answer is no.

"Murder Free Zone"  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 10:05 AM

I think that Village should declare Oak Park a "Murder Free Zone"..... That should do the trick


Posted: February 16th, 2012 10:01 AM

the columbus park nursing on austin just south of 290 had a murder there a year or two ago. the tribune stated how a large patient percentage there are mental illness and ex-cons. not so much convalesent. this is happening all over the nation.


Posted: February 16th, 2012 8:54 AM

Just out of curiosity, what is the percentage of residents that hail from OP?

OP Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 8:48 AM

The owner states early complaints are ancient history! The complaints go back to the 1970's when my family first made the mistake of having to put a love one there. Moved the person out as soon as we could. The owner's remark just shows they do not care! Attorney General needs to look at this. This is awful to the people who are living there!


Posted: February 15th, 2012 9:47 PM

I completely agree with Galen, all the owners care about is how fast they can fill their beds. Regardless of the individual's background of behaviors, etc. These "bad" facilities will accept the ones that the "decent" ones won't. Which is why many times competent workers won't touch these facilities. So these facilities have no choice but the bottom of the barrel to choose from.

Galen Gockel from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 9:32 PM

When one scratches the surface, it becomes clear that many nursing homes are owned and run by the same owner. And are for-profit cash cows for them. Time for the Ill Attorney General to investigate?


Posted: February 15th, 2012 9:26 PM

@Q from Oak Park contd from previous post....and NO I do NOT have anyone close to me in a nursing home BUT I do have friends who do and it was the MOST difficult decision they EVER MADE!!!


Posted: February 15th, 2012 9:24 PM

I am so sorry this happened and my sympathy to the Calderon family. I agree that this is totally unacceptable. However, to "Q from Oak Park" what the heck is wrong with you? Accusing people who can no longer care for loved ones in their home (and heaven knows there are many reasons that might be!)& putting them into "a general dumping ground because no one cares about them" is judgemental at the least. I hope you're not someone I know! I'd hate to think I considered you a friend!


Posted: February 15th, 2012 7:10 PM

Why does it seem that riff raff work there? It also seems like it a low class nursing home? Any truth to that?

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 6:55 PM

Living within a stone's throw of this nursing home, I've got to say that it has long been a poster child for why the frail elderly should live in group homes instead of nursing homes. But that's not going to happen any time soon in Oak Park or River Forest because the zoning codes for both villages violate the nation's Fair Housing Act when it comes to group homes for people with disabilities. It's a shame for all so many reasons.

epic lulz  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 5:13 PM

A coroner's determination that this was a "homicide" just means that another person was involved in the death. Whether this is an actual murder is for the police and prosecutor (and ultimately the jury) to determine.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 4:26 PM

Doesn't any poster know that nursing homes in general are dumping grounds where people have to go who don't have children and places that people who have to go when adult's don't want to care for their parents. This place is no different regardless it is in Oak Park. All of you think some how Oak Park is suppose to be better than ever other place in the World. Get a grip on reality and venture past Harlem, North Avenue, Roosevelt or Austin.

Violet Aura  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 3:38 PM

I heard this on the radio this afternoon and didn't know who had killed the patient (worker or other patient). How sad! I don't know if people are aware of this, but there are mentally ill people who are NOT seniors allowed in nursing homes. Some (if I am not mistaken) are criminals and they may sexually assault another patient or, as in this case, kill them. But why wouldn't there be the supervision to stop this? Maybe it happened in the middle of the night...

murder she wrote?  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 3:29 PM

dang, a murder just as Barwin is going for his annual review... kinda blows that stat, and after all of that high praise for a lower crime rate.

ANONYMOUS from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 2:31 PM


Safe or Not Safe? from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 2:15 PM

So we're getting mugged getting off the CTA. City cops are dealing drugs and stealing money. The Economy Sucks and we're all in the hole. What's next? Are the firemen gonna start stealing and killing people too? This world is going down in a spiral. I can't believe this crap. A nursing hmoe patient killed in the nursing home? unacceptable....


Posted: February 15th, 2012 1:32 PM

What are the racial make up of the victim and offender? This is a murder after all. How will this go down in OP crime stats?


Posted: February 15th, 2012 1:25 PM


Utterly Disgusted from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 12:54 PM

I can not believe this. I hope a full out investigation gets completed and the proper action gets taken to correct this. My thoughts and prayer with the Calderon family and I hope to God that the Illinois Department of Public Health gets involved with this matter. I am absolutely disgusted with this, and I hope the wrath of the Law is brought down upon the responsible parties for letting such a violent man roam around without being watched properly.

Concerned Citizen of Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 12:35 PM

I have some deep concerns about this. How can a patient that is dangerous and combative able to walk around without proper observation, and able to beat another patient to death without being stopped. Secondly, The facility should be shut down until the authorities can determine that no other patients are capable of doing this again. Other patients in this facility are obviously in danger and need to be protected properly to prevent such a tragedy. I hope heads from this facility roll.

OP reisdent from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 8:52 AM

Agree with the first post. Had a family member here years ago and it was awful back then. We moved to another place. Cannot believe it is still open. Hope this will open the door to an investigation of this place and either shut it down or a complete overhaul. The elderly need good places to be taken car of, there are not a lot of these places near Oak Park.

mtc from oak park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 8:21 AM

For as long as I have lived in Oak Park- well over 30 years-this facility has had one problem after the next in providing decent care to it's vulnerable, elderly residents. This facility's reputation is well known to those of us who work with this vulnerable population. How is it possible that Oak Park Health Care Center can remain open? What does it take for the authorities to finally close this place down?

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