News - Joliet and Will County

Future of Our Lady of Angels in Joliet uncertain

Board chair says closing under consideration

Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home in Joliet has not had any cases of COVID-19. Administrator Judy Hoffman said OLA has taken extra steps to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

The chairman of the board for Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home in Joliet said Tuesday that closing the facility is under consideration.

The statement was issued after WJOL-AM radio reported that Our Lady of Angels could be closing next year.

It also comes just two months after workers there voted to form a union.

Sister Jeanne Bessette said nursing home administration will meet with the union Thursday to discuss the possibility of shutting down.

“Unfortunately, it is true that we are considering closing, but we have not yet made a final decision and therefore have not developed any timeline related to closing,” Bessette said in the statement.

Nurses and other employees in August voted to join the Illinois Nurses Association, the same union that represents nurses at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet hospital.

INA Executive Director Julia Barnes issued a statement saying she considered the announcement “retaliatory” after the formation of the union.

“Absent any discussion of financial limitations, and given the timing of the announcement shortly following the workers winning their union election, we believe this closure to be retaliatory rather than financially necessary,” Bartmes said. “We are deeply troubled that a care facility would endanger its patients, leave its workers without jobs, and its community with less care resources to avoid bargaining with the union.”

A "Proud Union Home" sign is posted in front of the monument marking Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home at the corner of Ingalls and Wyoming avenues in Joliet on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.

WJOL on Tuesday morning cited unnamed sources saying that the nursing home could close as soon as January.

Bessette in her statement suggested the nursing home would not close in January.

“Should we decide to close this 60-year-old long-term care facility, we will not do so until well after Jan. 1, 2023, so that we can do our best to ensure a smooth transition for our residents, their families and our staff,” Bessette said.

Bessette also is president of Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, the Joliet-based order of Roman Catholic nuns that started the nursing home in 1962 primarily as a facility for aging nuns and priests.

The facility is run by a management company, and nurses in August noted a continuous change in management along with job insecurity as major reasons for forming the union.

The union represents more than 70 employees, including nurses, support staff, housekeeping, maintenance and dietary staff. The INA called the union chapter its “first wall-to-wall unit and the largest unit organized by INA in a decade” in a statement released after the vote.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated due to an incorrect identity.