More than six weeks have passed since notice was given: Children were breaking into a vacant nursing home in East Moline and stealing people's medical records.
Several city officials, including police and the mayor, were notified immediately. The Illinois Attorney General was contacted. Ditto for the Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD.
Know what's been done? Very little.
East Moline's attorney, John Remus, wrote a four-page letter on July 13 to Assistant Attorney General Yangsu Kim. It summarized the city's history with the unsavory property, beginning with a court order in 2015 that permitted city workers to go inside the nursing home that closed in 2013 to remove the medications and syringes that were left behind. In all, 2,000 pounds of hazardous materials were removed, according to Remus' letter.
But the medical and personnel records were left behind, including Social Security numbers, addresses, treatment histories and diagnoses. The court order didn't cover the records.
Remus characterized a 2015 conversation between property owner Michael Lerner and an East Moline police office thus: "... the officer noted that Lerner was uncooperative, and stated he had no plans to help secure the building or take responsibility for the property."
In Lerner's absence, HUD has tried to sell Forest Hill at auction with no takers.
The agency sent a statement Thursday, saying Lerner still is the owner, officially. The statement also noted that HUD workers entered Forest Hill on June 22, along with East Moline police, and secured "business records and other files both outside and inside of the building."
Meanwhile, the Health Department's hands are tied, because the facility no longer is licensed.
Back to the city attorney's letter, which suggests HUD's efforts didn't last.
Remus' letter portrayed conditions at Forest Hill: "On a recent walk-around of the property, it was discovered that there were approximately three unlocked doors, two broken windows, and ten missing air conditioning units, each of which would allow an individual to access the building.
"The City has again contacted Blaze (Restoration) and asked that these specific points of entry be secured."
City officials went back Friday and found another open door. Blaze has been asked to return, again.
Regarding the condition of the interior, Remus wrote, "... the property has been vandalized extensively and throughout. The corridors and common areas are littered with obstacles and debris, including broken furniture, broken glass, and fallen ceiling tiles, and all other sorts of various items like walkers, canes, plastic buckets, and books ...
"There is mold throughout the building.
"With respect to the medical records and personnel records currently in the building — the overwhelming majority of the records appear to be centralized in three offices/closets. The records are in file boxes, and are stacked in these rooms from floor to ceiling, front to back. A rough estimate would be 400+ file boxes of records."
Records also are "scattered throughout the hallway" and on desks.
The AG's office asked what the City of East Moline is willing to do about it.
Wrote Remus: "The City is not in a position, nor are they willing to commence condemnation proceedings against the building. It is our belief that this course of action would lead to the City being responsible for the records in the building, possible liability if someone were to break into the building and injure themselves, and would leave the City with a severely dilapidated building which likely needs to be demolished.
"The City is also not willing to commit financial resources to removal of the medical and personnel records in the building. The City is already running on a tight budget, and does not have surplus funds available to commit to this matter."
Remus then repeated the city's request that the State of Illinois intervene, especially in regards to the records.
A spokeswoman for the AG's office last week said all she could report is that the agency is working on it.
Meanwhile, City Administrator Darin Girdler said, "There are too many air conditioners left to steal. Those leave an opening."
With no one willing to remove the records, the openings seem endless.