Officials don't fault facility in death of LTC resident who was forgotten in hot van

Share this content:

An Illinois care facility wasn't deficient in the training it provided to two employees who left a resident in a van on a hot day, leading to his death, one state official said this week.

The resident died on June 11 after Elizabeth Cook and Heidi Jones, employees of Good Shepherd Manor in Momence, IL, left him in a van after a shopping trip on a day when temperatures reached 90 degrees. The resident, who had lived at the facility for men with developmental and intellectual disabilities for more than 40 years, was later found dead of heat stress, the Kankakee Daily Journal reported.

Cook and Jones were slated to appear in court on Thursday for their arraignment; they were both charged with two Class 3 felony counts of criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident resulting in death. It was unknown as of press time what they pleaded in the case. The two face a minimum sentence of two to fives years, and could serve up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Meredith Duncan, an attorney representing Good Shepherd, told McKnight's Long-Term Care News on Thursday that Cook and Jones are no longer employed at the facility.

A July report from the state's Department of Public Health argued Good Shepherd had “failed to develop and implement policies and procedures documenting protocols to ensure the safety of residents when participating in community outings.”

Despite the report's findings Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe won't be charging the facility, he told the newspaper on Thursday. Instead, it was the “clear connection between [the workers'] failures and this person's death” that led to the charges.

“I don't believe that the facility was deficient in its training. I disagree with the state's report,” Rowe said. “Perhaps they didn't have the same documents we had, but I think that Good Shepherd's training program for employees was more than adequate. In this instance I can't fault the facility."

The facility “continues to cooperate with all law enforcement and other agencies as they investigate and respond to the June 11 incident,” Duncan told McKnight's.