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House Downstate Democrats work for the good people of Illinois

Hospice care gets a boost from legislation

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By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff

 

Patients in need of in-patient hospice care now have more options in Illinois, following a change in state law that notably will add services to the Joliet Area Community Hospice (JACH).

Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation introduced in the House by State Representative Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) and the Senate by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), increasing the capacity of hospice inpatient units from 16 to 20.

The change was at the request of Mary Sheehan, CEO of JACH, and was supported by the Illinois Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Both the hospice and the state’s professional organization are committed to promoting palliative and enhancing end-of-life care through education, advocacy, technical and supportive services.

Manley and Sheehan announced the change at the hospice in late August.

JACH cares for a total of 320 patients in eight counties, including those inside the 16-unit inpatient hospice in Joliet. Prior to the new legislation, the limitation meant only 240 beds were available statewide for in-patient care, a number that wasn’t reaching the need. While JACH is staffed around the clock, there have at times been a waiting list.

“We have had a lot of growth, and with that growth comes the need for more inpatient care,” Sheehan said. “The inpatient level of care is for patients who are too sick to be at home, they don’t want to be in a hospital most of the time, and they need their pain and symptoms managed. They don’t want to die at home, sometimes there are children in the home and they don’t want to be there for that.”

Sheehan and Manley said they couldn’t account for why there are bed limits in the state, but hope this is the first step to adding even more beds for inpatient care in the future.

The change is especially close to Manley, whose mother passed away at JACH in July of last year.

“It is the one thing that we all have in common, is that we will eventually at some point lose somebody who is very dear to us,” Manley said. “My mother spent the last few days of her life here, being cared for in a way that I want every person to have the opportunity to have their mother cared for in that way. Staff is amazing, they not only cared for my mother, they cared for my brother and sister and I, my mother’s sister… The professional staff, the administration, they could not have been more supportive.”

The increase statewide from 16 to 20 beds per facility means the total capacity for hospice beds will rise from 240 to 300 beds.

The number of patients in hospice care is growing. At JACH alone, the average number of patients cared for each day has increased more than 63 percent since 2016.

Sheehan noted that hospice is not a place where people give up on life, but rather, is an option for those who are prepared to die on their own terms, and to educate families on how to care for their terminally ill loved one.

“People think hospice is giving up. It’s not, at all. People think there’s no hope, and that’s not true, it’s the opposite, we just hope for different things,” Sheehan said. “We want people to be in charge of their life and their death. Our perception is, we’re living every day, we’re not dying every day. We’re living every day until we die, and we want that to be comfortable.”

JACH also provides a pediatric hospice program.

Hospice treats the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of a patient and their family, including a bereavement program which follows family members for 13 months after a patient passes away.

“We’re all going to leave this earth at some time, and we want to make it as pain free and as dignified as possible,” Manley said. “The Joliet Area Community Hospice team made that possible for my mother, and I’m sure the other hospice homes in the state do the same. It’s a great day and I thank the governor for signing the bill and letting us expand our capacity to help people.”

JACH, a not-for-profit United Way agency, opened the first free standing hospice home in the state of Illinois in 2004. The organization has provided compassionate, professional hospice and palliative care to over 30,000 terminally ill patients and their families since 1982. In just the past two years, JACH provided more than $1.3 million in charity care, community bereavement programs, unreimbursed pediatric hospice and palliative care, and community outreach.

The hospice is funded via Medicare, Medicaid and insurance payments, as well as through private donations.

The hospice will add on to their current building to support the new beds. The plan includes building space large enough to accommodate eight additional beds, for potential future changes in the law. The renovation plans will also include adding a new chapel and overall upgrades to the existing facility. Sheehan said the constriction is expected to cost roughly $3.5 million, with anticipated ground breaking next spring and completion in late 2019 or early 2020.

JACH serves patients in greater Will, Grundy, LaSalle, Livingston, and Kendall counties along with portions of Cook, DuPage and Kankakee counties.

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September 12, 2018 at 12:33PM

Interview with state rep candidate Jason Woolard

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Interview with state rep candidate Jason Woolard


September 11, 2018
Robert Thies

Jason Woolard visits the Morning Newswatch.

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September 11, 2018 at 09:43AM

Legislative candidate calls for reopening Tamms

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TAMMS, Ill. —  The Department of Corrections announced a new $150 million facility recently, designed to help people with mental illness.  

But that facility will be built in Joliet, several hours north, prompting a candidate for state lawmaker to ask,"Why not Tamms?"

Marsha Griffin, a Democrat running for Illinois’ 115th District, said Tamms could easily be repurposed and reopened to help inmates with mental disabilities.

"The decision to build a new facility (in Joliet)… is not only fiscally irresponsible, but shows the governor’s ignorance about the economic situation in Southern Illinois," Griffin said. "We need jobs, and there is a facility that could easily be opened and repurposed currently sitting vacant."

She said southern Illinois needs the jobs, something officials from Tamms have been saying for years.

Lamar Houston, assistant mayor for the village of Tamms, has lived there all his life.

He remembers the excitement about the Tamms Supermax Prison before it was built in the 90s.

"And then all at once, it left," Houston said. "And it left the city with it. It left us with nothing."

Former Gov. Pat Quinn announced the closure of Tamms in 2012, angering several southern Illinois politicians.

Griffin’s plea to Gov. Rauner isn’t anything new, and her opponent, State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), has also called for the prison to be reopened.

"Well, it’s always going to be a hot topic when you have a facility such as the one we have here and as much money is being spent there," Houston said.

Despite closing for budgetary reasons, Illinois still spends $750,000 per year on Tamms, covering utilities, maintenance and guards.

Several groups also wanted to see Tamms closed because of inhumane conditions.

Houston said no one thought about the closure’s impact on the village.

"We all had high hopes that it was going to bring a few businesses into Tamms," Houston said. "And we can see our community growing rather than like it is now. We’re not able to get anything at all from the prison. We lost a lot. This city lost a lot."

Since the closure in early 2013, lawmakers have fought about the cost of reopening Tamms, but nothing ever happened.

Despite overcrowding in the state’s prisons, it doesn’t appear to be opening back up anytime soon.

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September 6, 2018 at 09:56AM

State Reps. Bristow and Stuart sign ‘Contract with the Middle Class’ pledge

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COLLINSVILLE – Continuing their efforts to stand up against extreme attacks on workers’ rights, state Reps. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey, and Katie Stuart, D-Collinsville, joined local labor leaders on Tuesday to sign a “Contract with the Middle Class” and publicly pledge their commitment to protect wages, workplace protections and collective bargaining rights for all.

“I am proud to stand with members of organized labor to pledge my commitment to protect workers’ rights and stand up to the recent attacks on middle-class families,” Stuart said. “Politicians like Dwight Kay and Bruce Rauner have sided with big corporations in an attempt to drive down wages and weaken the standard of living for working families. I strongly oppose these efforts and will continue working to put middle-class families first.”

Stuart and Bristow signed the Illinois AFL-CIO’s “Contract with the Middle Class” pledge to prioritize middle-class families ahead of Bruce Rauner’s special interest agenda. They committed to fight for real reforms that grow our economy by lifting up Illinois’ middle class which includes supporting fair wages, strengthening access to medical care for injured workers and protecting the right to collectively bargain. Stuart and Bristow both received endorsements from the Illinois AFL-CIO in the November General Election in recognition of their support on issues affecting working men and women across the state.

“Middle-class families are the backbone of the Metro East economy, but workers’ rights have come under attack from Bruce Rauner and his special interest agenda that pads the profits of big businesses at the expense of our families,” Bristow said. “While Mike Babcock stands in support of Bruce Rauner’s reckless anti-worker agenda, I stand with working families and am fighting to protect fair wages, safety in the workplace and collective bargaining rights for all.”












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September 4, 2018 at 12:53PM

Newsradio WJPF interview with Marsha Griffin

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Newsradio WJPF interview with Marsha Griffin

Democratic candidate for Illinois’ 115th House District Marsha Griffin joins The Morning Newswatch.

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September 4, 2018 at 08:28AM

New hope for Hardin County Work Camp

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New hope for Hardin County Work Camp

Plans are being developed to reopen the Hardin County Work Camp as a new detention center. The work camp was closed in January 2016 and local leaders have been working since then to reopen the facility. If reopened as a detention center, it would house 75 to 100 inmates and employ approximately 35 to 40 workers.

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August 31, 2018 at 06:37AM

State Rep. Yingling blasts Rauner for Lake County assessor bill veto

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A bill that passed the state legislature with wide bipartisan support for a referendum question in Lake County — asking if the county assessor should be an elected office — was killed this week when Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto.

His action, opening up the referendum question to other counties with an appointed assessor, means the question will not be on the November ballot.

State Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, said Rauner, a Republican, was ignoring thousands of taxpayers who called on him to sign the bill as is.

“He’s killed the ability of county residents to vote on this, end of story,” Yingling said.

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August 28, 2018 at 04:09PM

Katie Stuart continues to fight for fair funding for SIUE | RiverBender.com

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COLLINSVILLE – This week, state Rep. Katie Stuart joined members of the Illinois House Higher Education Committee for a public hearing at SIUE to discuss state funding for the Southern Illinois University system and allocations between the Edwardsville and Carbondale campuses.

“Student enrollment at SIUE has grown exponentially throughout the past decade, but the Edwardsville campus still only receives 36 percent of the Southern Illinois University system’s state funding,” Stuart said. “This hearing was an important opportunity for my colleagues in the legislature to hear from the Edwardsville community and understand how this funding disparity is hurting the students, the faculty and our local economy.”

As a former educator at SIUE, Stuart has been leading the charge to bring fair funding to the Edwardsville campus. She has been calling for the Illinois State Board of Higher Education to conduct an independent study of the SIU Board of Trustees to review the allocation of state funds between the two campuses.

“SIUE has grown to be a major economic engine for the Metro East, not only for the students, but for all residents of the region and it’s time for the distribution of state funding to reflect that growth,” Stuart said. “I will continue fighting to bring fair funding to Edwardsville because I know that it’s the right thing to do for our community.”

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August 23, 2018 at 10:21PM

Katie Stuart continues to fight for fair funding for SIUE | RiverBender.com

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COLLINSVILLE – This week, state Rep. Katie Stuart joined members of the Illinois House Higher Education Committee for a public hearing at SIUE to discuss state funding for the Southern Illinois University system and allocations between the Edwardsville and Carbondale campuses.

“Student enrollment at SIUE has grown exponentially throughout the past decade, but the Edwardsville campus still only receives 36 percent of the Southern Illinois University system’s state funding,” Stuart said. “This hearing was an important opportunity for my colleagues in the legislature to hear from the Edwardsville community and understand how this funding disparity is hurting the students, the faculty and our local economy.”

As a former educator at SIUE, Stuart has been leading the charge to bring fair funding to the Edwardsville campus. She has been calling for the Illinois State Board of Higher Education to conduct an independent study of the SIU Board of Trustees to review the allocation of state funds between the two campuses.

“SIUE has grown to be a major economic engine for the Metro East, not only for the students, but for all residents of the region and it’s time for the distribution of state funding to reflect that growth,” Stuart said. “I will continue fighting to bring fair funding to Edwardsville because I know that it’s the right thing to do for our community.”

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August 23, 2018 at 10:21PM