Months into COVID-19 pandemic, seniors say wellness checks have been rare | #television | #elderly | #movies
Months after an ordinance was passed by the City Council aimed at helping seniors through the coronavirus pandemic, some say they are still awaiting enforcement of the measure that calls for regular wellness checks.
“It’s a hit or miss depending on the management company,” said Debra Miller, who lives in a senior building and is a member of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, a Chicago-based senior citizen advocacy group that pushed for the ordinance.
And with most COVID-19 deaths in Chicago found among victims 60 and older, residents in senior buildings, including those part of public housing, say they need better oversight of the measure in order to stay safe.
The “senior safety ordinance” was passed by the City Council in July, and it tasks senior building owners and managers with conducting wellness checks, establishing safety protocols, implementing a cleaning regimen and restricting access to a building during public health emergencies.
The city did not respond to a request for comment. But nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, seniors who lobbied for the ordinance this summer say the city has not told them which agency will ensure building owners are following the ordinance.
Leslie Perkins, the chief of staff for 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden, who introduced the measure, said officials were still trying to figure that out. Perkins said she wasn’t aware of any violations but advised seniors to reach out to their aldermanic ward office for help.
In Chicago, most confirmed COVID-19 cases are among residents aged 18 to 29 years old, according to statistics from the city. Still, seniors are the ones who are dying from the virus. Of the city’s 3,819 deaths related to COVID-19, most — more than 3,000 — people who died were 60 years and older, according to statistics updated Tuesday from the city.
Harriett Holmes, 62, lives in a senior building in Old Town and recently got sick with COVID-19, she said. She was rushed to the hospital but was back in her apartment last week. Her building’s maintenance worker has checked up on Holmes, but she thinks that’s because she knows him personally.
“He helped me out because I can’t go out of the house,” Holmes said by phone. “As far as management, no one has communicated with people in the building.”
Her building is in the Chicago Zip code 60610, which has had 2,095 COVID-19 cases, according to statistics from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Carmen Betances, 68, lives in a senior building in Lincoln Park, and she recently learned a resident contracted COVID-19. But no one from her building called to inform her or to do a wellness check.
“This virus — we can’t hide it, and it’s killing a lot of people,” Betances said by phone. “When there’s a breakout and it’s close to us, we need to know so we can go get tested.”
Miller, who lives in a senior building in Edgewater Beach, said workers usually ask them how they are doing when calling about social events. But Miller, 69, doesn’t think those are satisfactory wellness checks because the caller usually doesn’t ask about her husband.
“It’s like you calling me and [saying], ‘How are you today?” Miller said. “That’s not a wellness check.”
She would like to see the followup include asking seniors if they need help getting medications or food. Miller said she and her husband had a bad stretch in October when he had a stroke and she wasn’t able to go out much. She said no one called her for a wellness check, but she was able to get help from her temple, which brought food to her apartment.
“I have a son in the city who would do anything for me, but he can’t come into the building,” Miller said. “He doesn’t want to bring COVID here and he can’t afford to get COVID on his own. Even with family, it’s hard.”
Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust.