The state of Illinois is still investigating the way Forest Hill Nursing Home in East Moline abruptly shut its doors, and now family members are speaking out about the closure and its impact on their loved ones.
The family of Barry Beauchamp says the 54-year-old cancer patient appeared to be doing well, until he was transferred to a facility in Galesburg on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Three days later, they got the call at their home in Rock Island. Barry Beauchamp had died.
"We lost him. They took him down there. It's sad how they've treated these people. It's not right. It's not right for us and not right for the patients," said Barry's mother, Nancy Ward of Rock Island
His family says Beauchamp was startled out of a sound chemo-pill-induced sleep last Thursday, when he learned he was being transferred to a long-term care facility in Galesburg. His mom says she was there when it happened.
"I woke him up and told him he was being transferred to Galesburg, and he said, 'What?' His belongings were packed up in a couple of boxes, and he was escorted to a white van.
"He didn't have the opportunity to go local, they just shipped him out to another place further away. I think Forest Hill herded everyone out like they were cattle. They were a number with a tag on their ear," said Barry's younger brother, Mike Evans. "He wasn't a number. He was my brother, and now I don't have him anymore."
His mom says she had not seen Barry since the transfer. She says she received a call Sunday night, November 24 from Galesburg Terrace Nursing Home, informing her that he had passed away due to his cancer.
The family says they are skeptical right now.
"I say an autopsy needs to be done, because I spoke to his doctor this morning and my brother was in remission," Barry's sister, Samantha Evans.
Barry was one of nearly 70 sick and elderly patients moved over a two-week period from Forest Hill to other homes.
Meanwhile, nearly 70 Forest Hill employees who lost their jobs reportedly received their overdue paychecks Monday, November 25. The union representing the majority of those workers says the facility's shutdown is under review.
"GEM Health, owned by Michael Lerner, did not give me any notice at all," said Greg Krout with the United Auto Workers. "Under the Warren Act, there are stipulations that need to be followed and we are investigating those at the present time."
In a brief telephone interview, Lerner denied any wrongdoing and says patients were given "options" and time to decide where they wanted to go.
Barry's family says that's not the case. They say they want to know how Barry went downhill in three days and why he wound up in a nursing home in Galesburg in the first place.
"My car's not that trustworthy to go that far, that's why we wanted to get him close," Barry's mom said. "It's not right how they got kicked out of there. He went from fighting cancer, taking the chemo, he fought it all this time with the pills and now, I lose him within three days? You tell me something's right? It's not."
Funeral services for the former military man were pending.