Guest Column: River Bluff employees speak out

Editor’s note: The following article was originally sent as a letter to the editor by some staff members at River Bluff who asked that their names not be used.

To whom it may concern:

This letter is in response to all the letters written and submitted by Diane Bergquist. There are many employees at River Bluff who are really sick and tired of all the negative comments, and often inaccurate and out-of-context statements made by Diane. Many of our residents and their families are sickened by her antics as well.

Many times, people have no other choice but to place their loved ones in a nursing home, and it is difficult enough to live with the guilt of placing their family member there without having to hear some of the things Diane would have our community believe go on at River Bluff. If there is a suspected abuse, the person accused is immediately removed from the building until it is investigated, and we report it immediately to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). IDPH will then investigate the situation. Diane obviously is not well informed regarding our policies and procedures. After all, she was only employed at River Bluff for two years and three months.

I and many others are hoping to set the record straight about River Bluff. It is not the horrific place that Diane paints it to be, but a friendly, homelike atmosphere where our residents are respected and well cared for. I hope you will see fit to print the following letter that was written by a few of the dedicated, caring nurses at River Bluff Nursing Home who wish to remain anonymous because they and I fear Diane will begin attacking us as she has other members of our staff in the past. We do feel, however, that enough is enough, and she should stop verbally attacking our facility. There are plenty of ways to help seniors in our community without the negativity that she has displayed.

The joint letter follows:

They say that if you don’t add fuel to a fire, it will burn itself out. We, the staff at River Bluff Nursing Home, have tried to take the high road and not publicly respond to Diane Bergquist’s hysterical, out of context, and often sarcastic accusations. However, this fire continues to burn on the fuel of unsubstantiated, biased rumors put into print by someone who obviously has an agenda that has nothing to do with helping our residents, and perhaps everything to do with settling a personal dispute with a couple of members of our administration.

No institution is 100 percent perfect, and River Bluff is no exception. Like any large organization, we have our problems. Unlike many organizations and contrary to what Diane Bergquist would have the community believe, we have multiple processes in place to take appropriate corrective action and a legal obligation to do so. Our Director of Nursing is not obligated, and indeed is not allowed to tell Mrs. Bergquist what corrective action is being taken against an employee if there is an alleged abuse, or give out any information regarding our residents because that would violate the employee’s and the resident’s right to confidentiality. However, we can assure you that every incident (however minor), once reported, does not go uninvestigated. We are inspected every year, and anytime there is a complaint by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

When IDPH ascertains there is a problem, we then initiate a plan of correction. IDPH then follows up on our plan of correction to ensure the problem has been resolved.

Mrs. Bergquist has also stated in the newspaper that she has had several family members who’ve resided at River Bluff. One has to wonder why someone who seems so dissatisfied with the care provided at a facility would choose to have her loved ones remain living there until their deaths. Diane and her husband even bought pizza and pop for the staff on one particular unit and thanked them profusely for the excellent care given their family member.

Another question that comes to mind is why would someone stay in the employ of a facility where she feels that people are being neglected or abused? One could speculate that if that were the situation, the ethical decision would be to choose not to be involved in such an organization, yet Diane was employed at River Bluff for two years and three months. Why were these issues not addressed while she was employed at River Bluff? One last question for Diane would be, what are you doing to help other seniors in the rest of the nursing homes in our area? You’ve stated that River Bluff is “the best of the worst,” so obviously you think that there are worse nursing homes than River Bluff in the area. Are you trying to help those residents in other facilities as well?

If Diane is sincere in her desire to help our residents (and not just obtain publicity for herself, or settle a grudge as a disgruntled former employee), we would like to offer the suggestion that she join our wonderful auxiliary volunteers and offer her time or services to some of our residents she claims to care so much about instead of popping in for a few minutes once a week to try and find more fault with our facility.

In conclusion, please don’t take our word for the loving care we provide at River Bluff, and don’t take Diane Bergquist’s word about the alleged problems. We invite you to come spend some time with our residents. Absorb the atmosphere, see for yourselves how the staff interacts with the residents. We’re confident you will leave with a positive impression.


A few concerned River Bluff nurses (who’d like to set the record straight).

From the Nov. 23-29, 2005, issue

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