The First Ward Report – The Elgin Mental Health Center is a Covid-19 Nightmare!

The First Ward Report – The Elgin Mental Health Center is a Covid-19 Nightmare!

While I’ve certainly enjoyed providing a month’s worth of statistical and evidence-based Illinois coronavirus reports, I can’t tell you how good it feels to get back to political writing. Put more simply, I’ve enjoyed comforting the afflicted, but now it’s time to get back to the real work of afflicting the comfortable.

Because, in what will likely come as no surprise to anyone, the State of Illinois is not nearly practicing the coronavirus gospel they’re so zealously preaching. And their most massive lapse comes in the form of the Elgin Mental Health Center where the administrators are doing their damndest to infect the rest of Elgin.


But rather than listen to me ramble on about an issue one more time, let’s hear it in sources’ own words! These are a string of quotes from a variety of inside sources:

Disposable masks were only issued after our first confirmed case at which point we were provided with one mask to use for seven days. The nurse manager held onto the box and logged when you received a mask.

We were finally issued a face shield and told that was the only one we’ll get. We’re always running low on soap and hand towels, too.

They finally started taking temperatures at the front door, but those nurses were not issued PPE other than gloves. (PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment)

Until the beginning of April, we were still receiving new patients into the UST unit directly from the jai. They were “screened” only by taking their temperature. (UST stand for “unfit to stand trial”)

We only have a five-day hold on new admissions even thought the COVID-19 incubation time is five to fourteen days and patients in other units regularly come into contact with these new admissions.

We’re still accepting admissions from the Cook County jail where there are numerous documented coronavirus cases and even deaths.

When a staff member tested positive, that unit was “quarantined.” However, staff members from that unit were detailed to other units to assist with coverage, and other units were allowed to send staff to that unit for coverage. The Director herself approved these staff transfers. Now numerous other units are under “quarantine” and this is still being practiced.

Personal hygiene in the UST unit is basically non-existent.

It was at this point that I approached Elgin Mental Health Center Director, Michelle Evans directly only to be sent to her boss at the Illinois Department of Human Services Communication Director, Meghan Powers, who assured me of her quick response.

But the terrifying tales continued to come in. Despite the following email in which EMHC administrators promised that masks would be readily available:

EMHC Letter

This is what my sources said:

When we received our mask, we were told we need to keep this one indefinitely because they do not know when we will get more, despite the email saying we would be provided with a new one daily.

But here’s my personal favorite:

The masks they gave us are garbage. They were recalled because they’re not FDA approved. So much for getting surgical masks daily.”

This would actually be an amazing comedy routine if the consequences for those nurses weren’t so potentially dire. Let’s continue:

They’re still moving e staff from quarantined units to non-quarantined units to cover shortages. [Expletive deleted] ridiculous!

Another unit just got quarantined and the nurse manager wasn’t even notified.

Though they’ve officially reported 20 cases here, the staff has only been informed of four.

Of course, as is par for the course, the “quick response” from the IDHS turned into no response.

So, despite Elgin’s best efforts to contain this pandemic, Elgin Mental Health Center administrators are clearly intent on undoing all that hard work. And the second most inexcusable thing is, when health care workers are consistently exposed to the disease, if they get it themselves, it tends to be a really bad case.

But the most inexcusable part of this is, sewn-to-J. B.’s hip Elgin State Rep Anna Moeller and State Senator Cristina Castro know exactly what’s going on at the EMHC, but they refuse to do a damn thing about it.

Moeller’s been far too busy contributing $57,800 to scandal plagued Speaker Mike Madigan’s legal defense fund to care about anything else. I had no ideal the Speaker was so destitute! Silly me! I thought he still reaped millions of dollars a year imposing property tax law and having his law firm fight those statutes on behalf of wealthy clients.

I wonder how many masks that 50 grand could’ve bought?

Meanwhile, in a truth is stranger than fiction turn, Castro’s new job is rooting out Illinois ethics issues while she supports beyond corrupt politicians like Elgin City Councilman and Springfield lobbyist Baldemar Lopez. Clean up Illinois? She can’t even deal with her own backyard!

And please tell me why is breaking this story up to me? Where the Courier-News, the Daily Herald, the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times are in all this? On second thought please don’t the answer would be too depressing.

Call me crazy, but don’t I remember reading something about caring for the “least of our brothers?”

11 thoughts on “The First Ward Report – The Elgin Mental Health Center is a Covid-19 Nightmare!

    1. It’s a horrible feeling going to work with the unknown. But no one has gone through any of this before so mistakes will be made. The one thing I can say is that everyone is trying to get us everything we need to keep us safe. Of course we want more or better but like I said no one has ever been through this before. Just keep all of us in your prayers.

    1. I am not surprised. After working there for 22 years (now retired for 8), I’d call this about par for the course. The people “in charge” there are essentially useless game pieces for DHS and completely disconnected and aloof to what is going on around them. And the people in DHS couldn’t care less about any of what they oversee unless it becomes a political hot potato somehow. It’s as bad as DCFS, and then nothing ever really changes when there’s alleged reform put into place. The stakes aren’t children here, but there is still disadvantaged humanity involved.

      People complain about government workers, but there are dedicated people in there taking care of what society doesn’t want to deal with – without enough needed supplies and a huge amount of being told to suck it up.

      You’ll never get anything out of the on-site administration there. You’ll have to go for the throat of the dragon in Springfield. But I guarantee you that the on-site folks will take the heat because the game always involves passing the buck and watching the shit roll downhill, all the way to the floor staff.

      I hope you FOIA the shit out of these people. I was no fan of Rauner’s, but he took heat over that Veterans home on his watch by the very man whose watch under which this is going on, and in oddly similar circumstances.

      When Steve Rauschenberger was the stare senator around here, even though he couldn’t do much, he seemed to take some active interest in pushing for improvements at EMHC, but I haven’t seen Castro or Moeller so much as acknowledge its existence. Moeller especially disappoints me. (And giving Madigan money?!? Really?!?) I’ve voted for her in the past. Never again.

      And while I’m on a rant, I’ve never voted for Castro. I could smell the stink on her before you ever revealed her connections to the other stink around Elgin.

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