The Real Problem at Henry Horner | Letters | Chicago Reader

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The Real Problem at Henry Horner

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To the editors:

Pardon my delay in responding to the November 2, 1990, article on Chicago Read. I have been out of town and busy with the holidays. Please print this as a rebuttal.

As an employee of Chicago Read Children's Unit, I have not observed or been informed of abuse to patients. However, I do observe abuse placed on staff by patients on a regular basis; i.e., staff receives human bites, fractured bones, open wounds, etc.

It is unfortunate that blame is placed on staff in the November 2 [article]. The staff are on the unit with clients for a minimum of eight hours a day and come to work not knowing if they will leave work injured or hospitalized.

I remember the client, Scott, mentioned in the November 2 [article]. The staff all felt sympathy for him due to his tortured life and family problems. I also remember that his IQ was 40, and his tendency was to exaggerate in general and also lie about staff abuse. The last day Scott was with us he completely destroyed a room, threw numerous chairs at staff, and then stated he had done nothing wrong.

In fact, the real problems are that there is a short staff supply, and director rules and regulations are not provided.

Anonymous employee of Chicago Read

Paul Basile replies:

Though the American Civil Liberties Union has uncovered ample evidence of patient abuse and neglect at Henry Horner Children's Center, nobody that I spoke to or quoted blamed the staff for these problems. In fact, they all agreed with the letter writer that problems at the facility stem from a chronic lack of funding and leadership.

Since "Scott" was a pseudonym I used to protect the identity of my source, I am confident that we are talking about two different patients. The description of the patient in the letter in no way matches my understanding of my source's circumstances.

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