First group of residents could move into state-operated Chicago veterans nursing home at 4250 N. Oak Park by end of next month
by BRIAN NADIG
The first residents are expected to move into the new 200-bed veterans nursing home at 4250 N. Oak Park Ave. by the end of 2021.
“The ball is on the one-yard line, and we are about to punch it in,” Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs acting director Terry Prince said of the long-anticipated opening of the first state-operated veterans home in Chicago. The other state-owned veterans homes are located in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno and Quincy.
Plans for the facility were first announced more than a dozen years ago, but the project has faced numerous delays.
Construction of the home was underway in 2015 when then-governor Bruce Rauner refused to release the funds needed for the work to continue. At the time there was a budget stalemate between him and the Democratic-controlled legislature.
After the budget impasse ended, a structural design error in the building’s foundation was discovered in 2017, leading to more delays. And then the pandemic created additional challenges in terms of staffing the facility and obtaining supplies and other materials.
T’Kira Siler-Wilkerson, the home’s administrator, said that the initial group of residents living at the home will be transfers from some of the state’s other facilities. In some instances they may be seeking to live closer to other family members, according to department officials.
Each resident at the home will have a private suite, which includes a television and a bathroom, Siler-Wilkerson said.
As a skilled nursing facility, it will be providing care to those who may need assistance with a variety of daily activities, such as getting dressed, bathing or medication/prescription monitoring, Siler-Wilkerson said. The home also will be providing care for those with dementia, she said.
“We are very excited to bring this level of care to our veterans,” Siler-Wilkerson said. She added that she expects a diverse group of veterans, including women, to be living at the home given its Chicago location.
Amenities at the home will include on-site hair salon and laundry services, housekeeping and access to a veterans’ services officer, who will assist residents with obtaining veteran’s benefits. There also will be a multi-purpose room for social activities and a garden with a walking path and benches.
Those living in the home pay a monthly maintenance fee, which is based on their monthly income if they have one (other assets not taken into consideration), according to the department’s website.
The maximum monthly cost of living at the home is $1,429, compared to $6,200 to $7,000 at other similar facilities, Prince said.
The affordability of the state’s veteran nursing homes may prevent clients from having to sell their house, where a spouse may want to continuing living, according to Prince and Tiler-Wilkerson. “It is one of the most fantastic benefits for a veteran,” Prince said of the state-operated nursing homes.
To be eligible, an applicant must have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces and have served during a war or have a service-connected disability or injury, with additional criteria for peacetime veterans. Admission also is based on the ability of the home to provide adequate care for the applicant’s needs, including having an available bed in the required category of care.
Those interested in information on applying to live at the Chicago home are asked to send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org . The home’s telephone number is 773-794-3763.
The home is built on land that was part of the Dunning site, which was once the home of the Dunning Institute, known as an insane asylum, in the 19th Century. Its successor institute became known as the Chicago-Read Mental Health Center, which is operated by the state.
Much of the Read Center land was declared surplus by the state has been redeveloped during the past 25 years for residential, commercial, industrial and public uses, including the new Wright College campus.