Guest Column: Time to band together to improve county nursing home

I wish to thank state Sen. Dave Syverson for responding to my letter and my article in the July 6-12, 2005, issue of The Rock River Times. I would also like to thank Sen. Syverson for forwarding a copy of the article to the long-term care staff for their review.

My husband and I visited the people whom we love at River Bluff for approximately two and a half hours Sunday, July 24. It is my understanding that River Bluff administration has hired a temporary service. If so, why are certain residents still allegedly being neglected?

A resident began crying when she saw me. She is afraid without someone there to advocate for her. This resident had been given a water pill. A short time later, she put her call light on to ask for assistance to go to the bathroom. Her call light went unanswered for 45 minutes. You can guess the end result? She said: “Why are they so mean to me? They treat me like sh—.” This is not MY ALLEGATION, I have a statement signed by the resident that this happened. This statement has been given to the Department of Public Health.

On Sunday, July 31, the son of a current resident at River Bluff called me. He was very upset and concerned about bruises on his mother’s hands. He said the explanation given was not acceptable to him and asked what I would do. I suggested he call the Public Health Department, then contact Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen. I also reported this to the Department of Public Health.

On Monday, Aug. 1, a resident called me. She told me she asked for assistance to go to the bathroom and was told by a caregiver to “go ahead and pee in your pants, I will clean you up later.” I encouraged her to contact the Department of Public Health. I also reported this to the Department of Public Health.

The allegations made by me in the July 6-12 issue of The Rock River Times are true. Republican Board Member Dave Krienke said these are simply allegations and called me an “angry ex-employee.” Mr. Krienke, I am a person of integrity, which means a person of honor, with principles, morals and compassion for my fellow human beings. I have gathered signed statements from all but one of those family members and residents I referred to in this article. Additionally, families of past and current residents have contacted me personally, and have voluntarily issued statements of neglect and abuse, signed by them or their power of attorney. On Thursday, July 28, I submitted these statements to the Department of Public Health and filed a complaint.

I wish to thank Chairman Scott Christiansen for assigning the new committee that residents may go to with concerns. However, someone please tell me what good this committee is going to be if the complaints are turned over to the same administration that has allegedly been covering up neglect for six-plus years? Does the County Board think we cannot see what is happening here, AGAIN? I even heard the nurse manager said she knew four out of the five members and that this would be a piece of cake.

I strongly encourage citizens of our community to band together to improve the quality of care at our County home, River Bluff, and all skilled nursing facilities. Also, please plan to attend the next Winnebago County Board meeting, Thursday, Aug. 11. Carol Pysher, daughter of a resident at River Bluff, placed herself on the docket Wednesday, Aug. 3, to speak about her and her mother’s issues and concerns.

Once again, I hold the current River Bluff Nursing Home administration responsible for the cover-up of neglect and abuse that goes on there. The employees who are hard working and compassionate deserve recognition and improved salaries. They also deserve an administration that has compassion, integrity, and the professionalism that it takes to operate a skilled nursing facility.

Diane Bergquist is a Rockford resident who formerly served as admissions coordinator at River Bluff Nursing Home, Winnebago County’s 304-bed nursing facility on North Main Street. Bergquist had submitted her resignation to be effective July 1 before she was told not to report back to work June 27.

From the Aug. 10-16, 2005, issue

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