Brain-Damaged Patient Is Pregnant, Health-Care Facility Investigated
A Bloomingdale health-care facility is under investigation by police and the state Department of Public Health after a 23-year-old wheelchair-bound, brain-damaged patient was found to be pregnant. The news triggered an investigation into the woman's apparent sexual assault while in the care of Alden Village Health Facility for Children and Young Adults. Employees at the 109-bed assisted-care facility are submitting to DNA testing and cooperating fully with investigations by Bloomingdale police and the state Health Department, said Jane Amata, a vice president for Alden Management Services, Alden's parent company. The pregnant woman's mother, Cheryl Hale-Crom, said the woman and her twin sister had lived at Alden Village since they were 10, but she withdrew both daughters the night she learned of the pregnancy. Both women have been brain damaged since infancy and can't walk or talk, their mother said. Hale-Crom said an Alden worker called her last month to tell her that one of her daughters was on her way to the hospital because her stomach had swelled because of a problem with her feeding tube. The worker also told her they were going to do a pregnancy test. "Why are we doing that?" Hale-Crom remembered asking. Two hours later, she found out her daughter was 28 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Alden Management Services, which operates 31 residential health care facilities in the Chicago area, "is committed to quality care," Amata said. "We strive each day to enhance the quality of life of the residents and patients that we are privileged to serve," she said. Hale-Crom said she had not spoken with Alden Village officials since transferring the twins to another facility, where both are undergoing testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Until the pregnancy, Hale-Crom said she was generally satisfied with her twins' care at Alden, which she visited about once a month because of the two-hour distance from her home in Machesney Park, near Rockford. But she remembers once asking an Alden caretaker about pregnancy protection regarding her twins, specifically about birth control pills or even hysterectomies. "I was told I shouldn't have to worry about that kind of stuff," Hale-Crom said. "So I just let it go," she said. "You can't sit and think about it." Amata said she had no knowledge of a conversation between Hale-Crom and an Alden staff member about pregnancy. She declined to comment on what advice would be given in such a situation or whether female residents are routinely checked to see if they are pregnant. "Obviously she didn't have periods for many months and it was never documented, they never did anything about it," said Ed Fox, Hale-Crom's lawyer. "It's just bizarre that they'd just let this go on." Bloomingdale Police Detective John Krueger declined to comment on the investigation. The Illinois Department of Public Health is also investigating, spokeswoman Tammy Leonard said, but declined to give any specifics. The fetus appeared healthy and is scheduled to be born through Caesarian section in mid-August, Hale-Crom said. "Doctors have told me that it's very possible that there are children like [my daughter] that have children that are perfectly healthy," said Hale-Crom, who said she will take the baby, a girl, into her care. "There's a lot of uncertainties, and we just have to wait until she's born." The twins had been in supervised facilities since age 3 1/2, when their shots, medication and therapy became too much for Hale-Crom to handle. In late June, Bloomingdale trustees approved a 35,000-square-foot addition that would more than double the 31,000-square-foot Alden Village facility at 267 E. Lake St. The Department of Public Health fined Alden Village $50,000 in September for failing to provide constant supervision for its neediest residents. The fine followed the death of a 12-year-old boy in February 2004 after he became trapped between his bed's padding and mattress. The fine was appealed, and no date has been set for a hearing, Leonard said. State inspectors also investigated reports about Alden this spring, but the complaints were not substantiated, she said. Amata declined to comment on past investigations.