As we are slowly getting back to the new normal, I have to share a couple of thoughts about what happened over the last three months. We had the Covid-19 pandemic which is still going on, although it is getting better. We see thousands and thousands of people die from this pandemic. The doctors and researchers are learning what we have to do to stop it. Yes. They are saying things that contradict what they said, but it is all normal with research.
Institutions in Illinois
For decades, people with disabilities are put in institutions to keep them “safe”, but these institutions never kept them safe- rather they are dehumanizing the people to a point where animals are treated better.
Back in March, we were told to practice social distancing. We had to change our lives to stay healthy- so we did. Did the people in the institutions get the memo about social distancing? No, they did not so they went on living. The number of people who got COVID-19 was 158 out of 1,691 residents and were in Illinois institutions. This was from the Illinois Department of Human Services back in April 2020.
Let us compare this with people with disabilities who use Home-Based Services and live in the community in Illinois. There are 8,000 people who use this service and there were 18 individuals who received COVID-19 during the same time frame.
These two statistics are shocking to me because this shows that institutions are totally dangerous for people with disabilities once again. I have not heard anything about institutions on the news. You might be thinking about nursing homes, Chris. No, I am not. Institutions are much larger than nursing homes and the people are in big rooms doing nothing. Sometimes they are in the nude because there aren’t enough personal assistants to dress them.
Now two weeks ago, George Floyd was killed by four police officers in Minnesota. This was very wrong at what the officers did to George. We thought that he was a nice standing citizen who was killed unjustly, but that is not the case at all. George Floyd was in jail five separate times. On the day of his death. He was high on drugs and tried to pay for something with fake money. The police asked him to step out of the car and he didn’t do what was asked of him.
Were the police wrong with what they did? Absolutely! Without any questions asked, but if George Floyd did what the police asked him to do, none of these riots would have happened. Again, the police officers were at fault and should go to jail. Yes, people should be frustrated, but rioting is a huge mistake. If we ask the protesters what they were protesting for, they would say George Floyd. If they were told the truth, would they still protest? Sounds a little debatable.
We hardly hear about protesting for people with disabilities by the regular society in big numbers. To die in institutions, it is inhumane, and protesting should be done like the case of George Floyd. People who have died in the institutions have done nothing wrong period and society is not outraged by this at all. How sad! Are we living in a society that is totally unfair? I truly wonder where we are heading, and I feel awful knowing that people who died in institutions died alone. Yes, people died alone in hospitals, but they hopefully had caring nurses taking care of them
We Need to Speak Up NOW
Do you know that it is cheaper to have someone in the community with Home Base Services than in an institution? Yes, it is by far. The next question is why don’t the law makers do something about it? The problem is that they do not know. If we don’t tell them, it is not on their weekly meetings, they don’t know about the issue. We have to always write them and invite our family and friends to do the same. If we truly want real change, this is what we have to do.