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Chenoa Retirement Home Fined Over Unauthorized Photos

A Chenoa retirement community faces a $25,000 fine after someone allegedly posted unauthorized photos and videos of residents on social media.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the action Tuesday against the Meadows Mennonite Home, a 159-bed skilled, intermediate, and shelter care facility.

The fine, issued in May, stemmed from an incident in March when “an individual not associated with Meadows Mennonite Community posted pictures of several residents on social media,” Meadows Communities CEO Jay Biere said in a statement Wednesday.

“At the time of discovery, we immediately contacted the Illinois Department of Public Health and the McLean County sheriff to report these posts,” Biere said. “Since March we have been supporting the investigation which is ongoing at this time. Furthermore, there were two former employees who were involved in the case in which the sheriff’s department is pursuing as well.”

“We have and will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities as they investigate and act on this case,” Biere added. “We have contested their recent statements and have requested a hearing due to the facts of the case and the criminal activity of the person associated with Meadows.”

State health officials say it was a staff member who took the photos, and that the facility didn’t report the “known unauthorized pictures.” Biere said a staff member took the photos but someone else posted them to social media. The staff member in question has since fired, he said.

The facility was cited “for failure to protect six residents from a staff member who mentally abused and humiliated the residents by taking unauthorized pictures and video, which included partial nudity, and posting them on social media,” according to a statement issued Tuesday by state officials.

Biere disputed the allegation that the facility failed to notify state officials about the photos.

The facility has requested a hearing in the case. A facility can request an administrative hearing to contest cited violations, said Illinois Department of Public Health spokesperson Melaney Arnold.

Meanwhile, the McLean County Sheriff's Department has a pending investigation at the Meadows, McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers told GLT on Wednesday. His office will review the case after the investigation is completed to determine if charges are warranted.

Meadows Communities issued a lengthy statement Wednesday. Excerpts are below:

“While it is difficult to stop individuals if they deliberately choose to violate policy or engage in criminal behaviors, we are actively investigating the recent allegations to learn from what occurred. We work hard to create communities of excellence and when unusual events occur, we want to understand how and why they occurred while looking for ways to prevent it in the future. We will continue to follow policies that foster healthy, positive relationships that are built upon trust and clear expectations. All safety precautions and policies are designed to ensure the well-being of our residents and their families. In unusual situations, such as this, our priority is the well-being of our residents and their families. We are committed to following our policies and holding ourselves and others accountable to the highest standards of excellence in all that we do. We are dedicated to living out our organizational values. We are a vibrant community of faith and we will continue to live out our mission of being a place where people are cared for and loved. The Meadows community remains focused on the mission of providing quality compassionate care. To that end, we will not allow the dysfunctional behaviors of several individuals to overshadow the many positive and compassionate behaviors of the many employees and residents at Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community. We appreciate the many hours of service given by our volunteers and residents. It is inspiring to be part of a community where the residents give time and talents to serve each other within the Meadows family and as they volunteer and engage with a range of organizations and individuals across the region.”

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.