Articles Posted in Illinois Nursing Homes

A Chicago nursing home patient died this week after catching fire outside of the home and being left to smolder without medical attention. The incident was partially caught on security cameras and has many outraged as it appears that the employees of the nursing home failed to take appropriate action to help the man or to save his life.

The man was a resident of a nursing home on the north side of Chicago when earlier this week, he sat outside of his nursing home and in his wheelchair as he smoked a cigarette. The man was in a designated smoking area at the time and security video shows that a lighter in his pocket caught his clothing on fire, prompting the man and other home residents to try to put out the fire. When they were unable to extinguish the man’s clothing, he wheeled himself inside the home and sought help from employees. Staff at the nursing home sprayed the victim directly with a fire extinguisher and then wheeled him outside again to the same area where the fire started, failing to check the man’s pulse or airway and failing to leave a staff member with him.

The video does not show any additional help being rendered to the man, who sustained burns from his eyebrows to his thighs, until approximately five minutes after the fire started. At that time an employee emerged and provided the resident with oxygen until paramedics arrived approximately five minutes later. It was not until paramedics arrived that CPR was performed, nearly 10 minutes after the fire began. But by that time it was too late.

The victim died as a result of the fire, leaving behind grieving family members who wonder why more wasn’t done to help their loved one.
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The aging American population continues to exert a greater need for health care services. Whether medication, doctor care, or skilled nursing, the needs of this segment of the population will only increase in the coming decades as more baby boomers retire and enter the elder stage of life.

In surveys, the majority of Americans express a preference for aging and eventually dying at their own homes and under their own care with a very small segment of the population showing positive feelings towards nursing homes. Yet the reality is that many will need around the clock medical care towards the end of their lives and few can afford such treatment outside of a nursing home setting.

With the demands expected to be placed on nursing homes increasing every year, it is important that the family members of nursing home residents be fully informed about the specific homes they consider as well as some of the risks posed to residents.

An organization known as the Silver Ribbon Project collects and compiles statistics related to nursing home abuse nationally in an effort to make the dangerous more widely known. Possessed with the believe that greater awareness will lead to less tolerance of abuse, the organization encourages others to speak out against homes that violate the rights of their patients. With no national reporting entity for nursing home abuse, the Silver Ribbon Project has collected and provided the following statistics regarding nursing home abuse and neglect:

– Between 1 and 2 million ages 65 and older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone who was supposed to be caring for them;

– Between 2% and 10% of nursing home patients are believed to be victims of abuse;

– Over 90% of U.S. nursing homes are understaffed;

– Nearly 1/3 of all American nursing homes have been cited for abuse;

– Experts believe that less than 20% of nursing home abuse incidents ever get reported with far fewer incidents getting reported to the proper authorities;

– If current trends continue, as the population in nursing homes grow, abuse rates are expected to increase 300% over the next 30 years.
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A new study released by ABT Associates reveals that the quality of Illinois nursing homes as well as those in other states is on the rise, but there are still many homes with serious deficiencies when it comes to quality. The study compares nursing homes in each state and the District of Columbia between 2009 and 2011 and used the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ranking system of stars, with one star being the lowest score and five stars the highest.

The percentage of four and five star nursing homes increased in 47 states with Montana, Idaho, and Hawaii being the only exceptions. This is good news for those in Illinois who may be facing a decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. The rating system was designed to provide families with the ability to easily compare the overall quality of nursing homes within a geographic so that consumers could make informed decisions about where their loved ones would be placed.

The rankings themselves are based on three categories: performance on health inspections, staffing levels when compared to the number of residents, and quality measures. Nursing homes receive scores in each of these categories which are compared and ranked among other homes in the state. These scores have been seen as influential in the industry and many nursing homes now advertise their scores in an attempt to attract new residents.

Some have speculated that the implementation of the rating system has encouraged nursing homes to tailor their care to increase their scores. This can be done by improving their performance during health inspections or increasing the number of nurses that are on staff at the facility. Both of these improvements lead to better care of residents in the homes, the overall goal of the health inspections and one goal of the rating system.

Between 2009 and 2011, the percentage of one star nursing homes in Illinois decreased while the percentage of five star homes increased, meaning that the proportion of homes providing the highest quality of care increased. This means that a higher percentage of Illinois nursing home residents were living in high quality nursing homes in 2011 than they had been just two years prior.
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Following widespread flooding that reportedly prompted Governor Pat Quinn to declare at least 38 Illinois counties a disaster area in April, a number of Lisle nursing home residents were evacuated by emergency personnel. According to reports, more than 50 residents of the Snow Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center were removed from the flooded long-term care facility using boats over the course of several hours. Patients in wheelchairs and beds were purportedly evacuated by rescue crews from both Lisle and surrounding towns. Nursing Home Administrator Stephen Brumer said facility residents were taken by ambulance to other nursing homes in the region following the evacuation. Brumer added that the relatives of each patient were notified of their loved one’s location and health status after the rescue was completed.

Unfortunately, similar scenes recently unfolded in a number of other Illinois communities. As a result of heavy rains, residents at a River Forest nursing home were also forced to evacuate amid widespread area flooding. In addition, a roof allegedly collapsed at a skilled nursing facility in Carlysle. Although no injuries were reported, at least eight patients were purportedly displaced by the collapse.

All nursing homes that are certified to receive federal Medicaid and Medicare funds must have a written emergency management plan in place and provide workers with emergency preparedness training. Regrettably, a recent survey of skilled nursing facilities across the country allegedly found that most are not sufficiently equipped to handle a natural or other disaster and many failed to include all necessary tasks on an emergency checklist. Natural disasters like the flooding that recently occurred across Illinois can potentially affect both the physical and mental health of nursing home residents and workers.

Most nursing homes and other long-term care facilities operating in the State of Illinois receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funds. This means they are certified facilities. As a result, caregivers and administrators who work at Illinois certified nursing homes are required to adhere to both state and federal laws and regulations. Despite that most skilled nursing facilities in Illinois provide valuable patient care, those that fail to provide adequate services may fall through the cracks. If you believe a friend or family member was hurt or died as a result of the conditions he or she was subjected to while in the care of an Illinois skilled nursing facility, you should contact a skilled lawyer to discuss your concerns.
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A former Knoxville, Illinois nursing home employee was recently sentenced in connection with the alleged battery of an 82-year-old patient. Knox County Judge Paul Mangieri ordered the 56-year-old nurse to serve two years of probation and complete 100 hours of community service after she purportedly hit a resident at the facility where she was employed. The convicted woman was initially accused of a Class 3 felony over allegations that she purposefully struck a Good Samaritan Nursing Home patient in 2012. Despite that two of the woman’s co-workers apparently testified against her at trial, the nurse insisted the incident was an accident. Still, Judge Mangieri reportedly refuted her claims at a sentencing hearing by stating the battery was clearly no accident.

In 1988, Illinois passed the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act. The law was designed to respond to any instance of abuse of an Illinois senior citizen. The Illinois Department of Public Health is tasked with investigating and responding to all reports of senior neglect or abuse in a nursing home or other long-term care setting. Since 1999, all law enforcement, medical, and social service professionals are required by law to report any suspected instances of elder abuse or neglect where the individual being abused is unable to self-report. In addition, such professionals may also voluntarily report any suspected elder mistreatment.

Three years ago, the Governor of Illinois signed into law a number of nursing home safety measures created to protect patients in long-term care facilities from abuse. The 2010 law requires nursing homes to increase nurse staffing levels, perform thorough background checks on new residents, and ordered the state to hire a number of additional nursing home inspectors.

No senior citizen should feel unsafe in his or her place of residence. As this sad case demonstrates, elder abuse occurs in Illinois despite a number of laws designed to protect skilled nursing facility patients. Nursing home abuse may include physical violence or assault, withholding of medication, food, or personal items, simple neglect, and more. In too many cases, skilled nursing facility abuse results from an insufficient number of well-trained and competent direct care staff. If you believe a nursing home resident is being abused, you are advised to discuss your concerns with a quality nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer as soon as possible.
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A nationwide study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology claims skilled nursing facility patients are more likely to contract a dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection during the winter months. In contrast, children are reportedly more likely to become infected with the potentially deadly bacteria in the summer. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, individuals over age 65 are at an increased risk for becoming infected with MRSA following a health care procedure or in a nursing home while children normally are infected in the community through a cut or other wound.

As part of the study, researchers purportedly analyzed data collected regarding MRSA infections contracted between 2005 and 2009. They allegedly found that MRSA infections in particular age groups are tied to the seasons. Lead Study Author, Eili Klein, Ph.D., stated although it is unclear why seasonal and age preferences exist for health care-associated and community-associated MRSA, overuse of antibiotics in the winter months may be partially to blame. According to Klein, the strain of MRSA that generally affects the elderly is resistant to more types of antibiotics than the community-associated strain. Klein said the inappropriate use of antibiotics likely plays a role in MRSA resistance to the drugs. Klein reportedly believes additional research regarding the seasonal patterns associated with MRSA could help healthcare professionals develop more effective treatment guidelines and infection control strategies.

Since skilled nursing facility patients normally live in close proximity to one another, bacteria like MRSA can be spread easily. Effective sanitation and infection control measures are required to maintain the health of nursing home residents. Despite that nursing home employees in Illinois are required by law to ensure simple precautionary measures intended to control the spread of illness or disease are used, too many long-term care facility workers allegedly fail to do so. Unfortunately, this can have a tragic and deadly impact on institution residents. If your loved one died after he or she contracted a preventable disease at an Illinois nursing home, you are advised to speak with a capable nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer.
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The child of a man who died about nine months after falling at a Belleville nursing facility has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court. According to her complaint, the woman’s father suffered a broken hip as a result of receiving improper care while a resident at a facility on March 24, 2011. The woman claims her father’s injury contributed to his death in December 2011. The lawsuit also alleges that the deceased man suffered anxiety, emotional pain, distress, serious bruising, and decreased mobility as a result of the facility’s carelessness.

In her case, the deceased man’s daughter asserts that employees at the nursing home failed to supervise him adequately enough to avoid preventable falls despite the workers being aware he was at risk for falling. In addition, the woman claims her father’s bed was too high and no bed rails or alarm were installed. She also accuses the skilled nursing facility of failing to maintain an adequate number of staff and failing to answer his assistance calls in a timely manner.

Resident falls in a nursing home can be caused by many factors, including poorly fitted beds and wheelchairs, environmental hazards like inadequate lighting and slippery floors, and underlying patient health problems. Additionally, a failure on the part of facility caregivers to monitor the elderly and disabled after medication changes may contribute to resident falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims worker education, safety equipment installation, and proper health care for residents can dramatically impact patient fall rates at skilled nursing facilities in Illinois and throughout the country.

Too often, nursing home residents are placed at risk of falling when care facilities fail to employ enough direct care staff. In 2010, amendments to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act required that long-term care facilities operating within our state increase the number of workers directly caring for residents to a level that adequately meets the needs of all patients. Despite the legislation, an inadequate number of nursing facility staff is a common factor in Illinois nursing home abuse or neglect cases. If your friend or family member was injured or died at a nursing facility in Illinois, you are advised to discuss your case with a quality nursing home abuse and neglect attorney immediately.
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A 49-year-old man who suffers from paralysis of half of his body has filed a negligence lawsuit against a Joliet nursing home. The Cook County Circuit Court case alleges Hillcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center failed to reposition the man frequently enough and he developed pressure ulcers as a result. According to the lawsuit, the man was later forced to undergo the amputation of most of his left leg after facility employees failed to adequately monitor his condition and one of the bedsores became seriously infected.

The man’s sister-in-law stated the 49-year-old was able to walk with assistance when he entered the Joliet skilled nursing facility. Unfortunately, because the man’s paralysis affects his right side he is reportedly no longer able to walk. His sister-in-law claims the former Hillcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center patient also lost much of his independence and mobility as a result of the leg amputation. She also added that the man was gravely ill and it was unclear whether he would survive when he was removed from the nursing home’s care.

Prior to filing his lawsuit, relatives of the 49-year-old man reportedly filed a complaint regarding the skilled nursing facility with the Illinois Department of Public Health. Following an investigation, the care center was apparently cited for a number of violations and fined more than $31,000. In 2011, 23 additional instances of physical and sexual abuse of residents were also allegedly uncovered at the nursing home within a period of five months. Illinois officials are purportedly investigating two suspicious deaths that took place within six months of one another at the facility as well.

The Hillcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has reportedly lost its federal Medicaid and Medicare certified status and is in the process of fighting to maintain a license to operate in Illinois. A certified skilled nursing facility is one that is eligible to receive federal funding. Certified facilities are also subject to both state and federal regulations. Despite that most nursing homes located in Illinois are certified, the state’s Nursing Home Care Act does not require it. Regardless of a facility’s certified status, the Illinois Department of Public Health regulates the quality of care provided in all nursing homes across the state. If you believe your family member suffered neglect or abuse at a long-term care facility in Illinois, you should discuss your concerns with a quality attorney.
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A nursing home patient in Peoria was recently treated at a hospital after she was hurt by a fellow resident. According to the Peoria Police Department, the 44-year-old woman was knocked down and injured by a 53-year-old male amputee who is confined to a wheelchair. The man allegedly struck the woman on purpose in a hallway at the Sharon Willow South Nursing & Custodial Care Center.

Following the purported incident, the 44-year-old was transported to Proctor Hospital for medical care. After the woman was treated for alleged scrapes, as well as head and back pain, she was reportedly released from the hospital. The Peoria Police Department has not stated whether the 53-year-old man, who allegedly suffers from depression, will be charged in connection with the incident.

In 2010, the Governor of Illinois signed into law amendments to the Nursing Home Care Act. The changes compelled nursing homes to implement a number of new safety measures designed to protect the residents of long-term care facilities from being abused. In addition to increasing nurse and other direct care worker staffing requirements, the legislation mandated the hiring of additional state nursing home inspectors.

In an effort to increase the safety of long-term care patients, the Nursing Home Care Act now requires skilled nursing facilities to perform a thorough background check on all new residents prior to admission and maintain a certain level of separation between patients with a criminal past or a history of mental health issues and other residents. Previously, patients could be housed in close proximity to the mentally ill or a resident with a violent criminal past. The new screening requirements were reportedly implemented to reduce potentially dangerous interactions among residents.

As this sad case demonstrates, nursing home residents may be abused by other patients or facility employees despite a number of laws designed to protect them. Nursing home abuse may include physical or sexual violence, withholding of food or medication, or simple neglect. In too many cases, abuse in a long-term care facility results from a shortage of competent or well-trained staff. If you believe a nursing home resident is being abused by a fellow patient or a facility employee, you are advised to speak with a caring nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer about your concerns.
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An unusually large number of deaths over the last several months at a nursing home in Champaign have apparently prompted an inquiry. According to one report, as many as 60 residents died in the months of December, January, and February combined. Champaign County Nursing Home Administrator Karen Noffke allegedly stated 42 deaths took place at the home between December 1st and early March. She also said 27 of those deaths included individuals who were receiving hospice care. In contrast, the nursing home reportedly averaged about 5 resident deaths per month between January and November 2012.

The facility’s manager, Scott Gima, said he plans to analyze the mortality data to determine whether any specific health trends, such as a pneumonia outbreak, have affected the nursing home. Still, Gima reportedly believes the Champaign County Nursing Home patient death rate is high as a result of the increased number of hospice patients in the facility’s care. He also stated that a respiratory-therapy program was recently suspended until a new therapist can be found. The overall number of residents at the Champaign County Nursing Home has reportedly dropped by 20, or about 10 percent, since December.

County Board Members Peter Czajkowski and Robert Palinkas expressed concern over the nursing home’s mortality data. Czajkowski stated he believes the rash of deaths merits serious investigation. Palinkas also suggested that the overall death data should be analyzed for errors. Two other Board Members also echoed their sentiments. In response, Gima told the County Board of Directors that a comprehensive nursing report will be made available to them within the next few weeks.

Although most nursing homes in Illinois provide quality patient care, there is always room for improvement. Unfortunately, some skilled nursing facilities choose to cut corners through personnel and other direct-care expenses. When a nursing home fails to employ a sufficient number of qualified staff or when employees do not effectively communicate with one another, patient neglect or abuse can result. If your friend or family member was the victim of abuse or neglect while residing in a nursing home in Illinois, you are advised to discuss your concerns with a skilled lawyer.
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