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  2002 Press Releases  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jan Costello
Phone: 217-785-9020, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

July 22, 2002

Outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsman and Elder Abuse Supervisor of the Year Named

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber has announced the names of individuals honored for exemplary work in nursing home resident advocacy and programs that address elder abuse.

The awards will be presented July 25, 2002, at the Holiday Inn City Centre in Chicago. Awards will go to an outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsman and Elder Abuse Program Supervisor during the Illinois Department on Agingís 16th Annual Elder Rights Conference.

"The honorees are bright stars for seniors," said Schreiber. "They are always looking out for their best interests and have dedicated themselves to a very challenging field. They are an inspiration to all."

"I am very honored to help celebrate the achievements of these heroes," Wood said. "They work hard to protect the rights and dignity of vulnerable seniors and demonstrate the very highest standards of professionalism and altruism."

Winners were chosen based on qualities of team work, professionalism, client advocacy, work ethic, accomplishments and positive attitude.

Winners are:

Outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsman - Robyn OíNeill of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. OíNeill has worked as a regional Long Term Care Ombudsman in the Foundationís Evanston Office for 16 years. She supervises a large program but is always willing to provide consultation to other regional programs about challenging case situations and legal issues. She is a consistent resource to new ombudsmen uncertain how best to approach complex situations. OíNeill is well-known and respected in the aging network and by her peers. While viewing herself as a resident advocate first, she is able to listen and respond to the concerns of all parties in a respectful manner. She is articulate and has an extremely strong work ethic. She developed one of the first regional programs in the state and assumed a leadership role in the development of the Illinois Association of Long Term Care Ombudsmen.

The following Long Term Ombudsmen received Certificates of Recognition for their dedication:

  • Laura Alexander, of Alternatives for the Older Adult in Moline;

  • Mary Ann Smith of the Effingham City/County Committee on Aging in Mt. Vernon;

  • Adele Vaira of the Senior Services Center of Will County in Joliet.

Outstanding Elder Abuse Program Supervisor - Debra Foust of the Stephenson County Senior Center in Freeport has worked as an Elder Abuse Caseworker, Case Manager and Supervisor for 17 years. According to her nomination, "Clients come first - always. Meeting their needs, providing workable solutions is a top priority...she is willing to go the extra mile, both physically and emotionally, making weekend calls as needed and advocating vigorously for the client...She is an excellent role model, encouraging and supporting the staff she supervises." Foust is also described as a seasoned expert who is passionate about educating others about the abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors.

The following Elder Abuse Program Supervisors received Certificates of Recognition for their dedication and work for ten or more years:

  • Kim Crutcher of PATH in Bloomington;
  • Ranelle Eigsti of the Catholic Diocese of Joliet in Kankakee;
  • Cynthia Gunderson of Catholic Charities Northwest Senior Services in Arlington Heights;
  • Marshall Hayes of Elderly Care Services of DeKalb County in DeKalb;
  • Mary Holmes of Prairie Council on Aging in Carrollton;
  • Riki Kauffman of PLOWS Council on Aging in Palos Heights;
  • Rebecca Lerfelt of PLOWS Council on Aging in Palos Heights;
  • Nancy Manley of CHELP in Decatur;
  • Judy McElhoe of West Central Illinois CCU in Quincy;
  • Louise Starmann of Southwest Suburban Center on Aging in LaGrange; and
  • Joan Wileman of Stickney Township Office on Aging in Burbank.

The Illinois Department on Agingís Elder Abuse and Neglect Program responded to 7,415 allegations of abuse and neglect in Fiscal Year 2001.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program responded to 5,661 complaints in the past year and answered more than 22,900 inquiries from residents and their families, as well as long term care facility staff and others.

In addition, 8,673 older persons received legal assistance last year through the Departmentís Legal Assistance Program, which provides help with civil legal matters such as elder abuse and neglect, financial exploitation, consumer fraud, simple estate planning, advance directives, nursing home residentsí rights, and government benefits programs.

Anyone who suspects elder abuse should call the Departmentís Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday) or 1-800-279-0400 after hours and on weekends and holidays.

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To obtain the name of your local Long Term Care Ombudsman, or for more information, call the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY).


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