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  2003 Press Releases  

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CONTACT: Nikki Smith
Phone: 1-217-785-9020, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

July 31, 2003

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

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson has announced the names of people honored for work in nursing home resident advocacy and programs that address elder abuse.

The awards will be presented July 31, 2003, at the Hyatt Regency in Oak Brook. Awards will go to an outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsman of the Year and Elder Abuse Caseworker of the Year during the Department’s 17th Annual Elder Rights Conference.

"The Illinois Department on Aging and the entire aging network throughout the state applaud these remarkable people who stand out in a challenging field," Johnson said.

"They possess qualities that inspire their colleagues and directly improve the quality of life for vulnerable seniors."

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 of the Year is Tami Lynn Wacker of East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging, Bloomington. Wacker planned five Pioneer conventions to help ombudsmen and Area Agency staff learn about new approaches to improving the lives of nursing home residents. She started a volunteer ombudsman newsletter to provide information and motivation, and has demonstrated a positive attitude which has enhanced her work environment. According to her nomination, Wacker "takes the issues she sees in nursing homes with extreme importance and has earned the respect of not only her fellow employees but by staff of other agencies...her integrity and tenacity is unheralded. Staff of nursing homes often feel free to call her up and ask her questions regarding the care and rights of their residents because of her professional nature." Her nomination further states, "her positive energy has helped make nursing home living a positive experience for residents, staff and families. Tami's positive attitude has made her co-workers grateful for the chance to work with her, but even more so it has given the residents of our nursing homes a breath of fresh air and a tireless Tami to advocate for their care."

The following Long Term Care Ombudsman received certificates of recognition:
  • Nancy Flowers of the Evanston Commission on Aging;
  • Sharon Jones of the Chicago Department on Aging;
  • Margaret Niederer of ICare in Springfield;
  • Cathy Weightman-Moore of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rockford; and
  • Nancy Whitty of Alternatives for the Older Adult, Moline.

Outstanding Elder Abuse Caseworker of the Year is Sheila Haggard of Shawnee Alliance for Seniors in Carterville. Haggard has been in her position for seven years and is known as a strong advocate for her clients. According to her nomination papers, her empathy is also well known and she has formed relationships which have helped clients with their housing, health and supervision needs. Haggard is resourceful and has gone the extra mile to help elder abuse victims get out of deplorable living situations. She does not think anyone is beyond help or beyond the scope of the Elder Abuse Program, and is remarkable at establishing rapports with those individuals most in need. Haggard's nomination also describes her as a natural leader and team member. She has forged partnerships with other entities such as the Veterans' Administration, Salvation Army and others to ensure clients receive the assistance necessary to improve their lives.

The following Elder Abuse Caseworkers received certificates of recognition:
  • Sandy Ambrose of Oak Park Township;
  • Julie Berktold of Catholic Charities, Chicago;
  • Nancy Bogle of Elder Care Services of DeKalb County;
  • Marsha England of Southwestern Illinois Visiting Nurse Association, Swansea;
  • Ruth Folkening, of Southwest Suburban Center on Aging, LaGrange;
  • Versia Green of Metropolitan Family Services, Calumet Center, Chicago;
  • Nan Hohf of North Shore Senior Center, Northfield;
  • Millie Nieves-Rodriquez of DuPage County Human Services, Wheaton;
  • the late Sue Price of Catholic Charities, Kankakee; and
  • Mary Lee Williams of Catholic Charities Northwest Senior Services, Arlington Heights.

The Illinois Department on Aging's Elder Abuse and Neglect Program responded to 7,425 allegations of abuse and neglect in Fiscal Year 2002.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program responded to approximately 6,000 complaints in the past year and answered more than 21,000 inquiries from residents and their families, as well as long term care facility staff and others.

In addition, 8,695 older persons received legal assistance last year through the Department's 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 residents' rights and government benefits programs.

Anyone who suspects elder abuse should call the Department's Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) or 1-800-279-0400 after hours and on weekends and holidays.

To obtain the name of your Long Term Care Ombudsman, call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY).



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For more information, contact the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine.

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