Chicago area long-term care facilities closing; patients moving to nursing homes

In Chicago and the nation as a whole, cost-cutting in health care is a part of ongoing reform to the system. Cook County, for example, plans to close the long-term care unit at the Oak Forest Hospital. The 220 patients, including quadriplegics, gunshot wound victims, stroke survivors, and others, are being moved to nursing homes and away from their close-knit community. The patients are wary of living in nursing homes for fear that they will not be able to get the care they need or that they will not find companionship in the elderly. Plus, round-the-clock emergency care is on site and available within minutes at the long-term facility, but not so at most nursing homes. Nursing homes are a cheaper alternative for the state, but not equivalent to long-term care and assistance. Nursing home abuse and neglect is common, and nursing homes are already lack staff and have too many patients. In addition, non-naturalized immigrants might not be admitted to the state-run nursing homes.

To read the Chicago Tribune article, click here

The National Center on Elder Abuse: A valuable resource for professionals, law enforcement, public policy leaders, victims of abuse, researchers and the general public

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) is a useful resource on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. If you are looking for news, consultations, education and training, information about promising practices and interventions, answers to inquiries and requests for information, or advising on program and policy development, the NCEA is a helpful source. Additionally, the NCEA operates a listserve forum for professionals, hosts events and webcasts, and collaborates research.

If you are looking for information and resources about all areas of elder abuse, visit the NCEA’s website.

Education and assistance for individuals considering protection of guardianship

Surrogate Guardian Services (SGS) is a not-for-profit organization committed to maximizing independence for disabled individuals in the least restrictive environment possible. SGS educates the public and professionals on guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, under the belief that guardianship should only be used when all other life care options are exhausted.

SGS is comprised of nurses, social workers, attorneys, elder care specialists, and CPAs who counsel medical professionals, attorneys, elder care specialists, individuals, and their families on options for the disabled, including guardianship.

Visit the SGS website to learn more information about available services.

$925,000 Settlement for Family of 86-year-old Victim of Nursing Home Neglect

Steven M. Levin and Michael F. Bonamarte, IV of Levin & Perconti recently settled a Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit for $925,000 against Manorcare at South Holland Nursing Home. An 86-year-old woman was so badly neglected that she developed severely infected pressure sores, and suffered malnutrition and dehydration during her three month stay at Manorcare. Despite regular complaints by family members, this visible neglect ultimately contributed to her death.

Her son stated, "Manorcare promised to provide the best care possible for my mother. My mom wanted nothing more than to regain her strength and independence so that she could return to her own home. She suffered needlessly because Manorcare did not keep their promise."

Manorcare’s staff failed to follow the orders of the woman’s doctor regarding her diet, causing her to become severly malnourished. Additionally, the staff neglected to reposition her and check her skin for any breakdown, triggering the development of severe pressure ulcers. The pressure sores caused a bone infection, as well as an infection in her blood (sepsis). After three months, the woman died from complications directly related to these injuries.

As noted by Michael Bonamarte, “These are exactly the type of injuries that the Nursing Home Care Act was intended to prevent.” Manorcare at South Holland Nursing Home is one of the many Chicago-area homes listed on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid’s Illinois Nursing Home Watch List.

Click here to read the press release
Click here to read the Chicago Tribune article

CareNhome Inc. aides the elderly and mentally disabled

Day-to-day home management for the elderly and mentally disabled can be a difficult and at times overwhelming task. Frequently, people become attached to their homes and resist the idea of entering into a nursing home for fear of abuse and neglect. CareNhome is an alternative to long term care facilities and serves the elderly and mentally disabled citizens of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. CareNhome provides services such as medication management, assistance with shopping and errands, and property cleanup management. CareNhome offers both live in and come and go services. Further information can be found at their website.

The elderly or mentally disabled may not realize their home is in dire need of renovation. A home may look decent from the outside, but the interior can be an entirely different story. The kind people at CareNhome have proven that with hard work and dedication anything can be accomplished. Click here for an example of their work

Does an elderly person you know suffer from a mental illness?

If so, please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of greater Chicago. NAMI is a non-profit organization that has been helping families affected by mental illnesses since 1979. Over 51 million Americans are affected by one or more mental disorders. Even if you don’t know anyone affected by a mental illness you can still help the cause! The Namiwalks for the Mind of America is a nationwide fundraising and mental health awareness program that is being held in over 70 communities including Chicago, Illinois. For more information on the walk and other ways in which you can help build awareness and understanding, click here.

Annual Watch List Shows Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Chicago and Illinois is Still a Major Problem

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services surveys nursing homes annually and provides a National Nursing Home Watch List. For 2007, the Illinois Nursing Home Watch List cited 250 Illinois nursing homes for actual harm and immediate jeopardy to patients. Over 25 nursing homes were cited in Chicago alone and at least 30 homes in the state of Illinois were cited for actual harm and immediate jeopardy on three or more surveys. Hence, nursing home abuse and neglect is a legitimate problem in Illinois and the nation as a whole.

The list is published on memberofthefamily.net, a website designed to offer information about Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes nationwide. As seen on NBC’s Today Show, memberofthefamily.net also provides literature on the subject of nursing home rights, including the recently published guide Danger Zone: Unlock the Secrets of Nursing Home Medical Records and Protect Your Loved One. The book is intended to help families recognize falsifications in medical records and nursing home negligence.

In Illinois, advocates and nursing home lawyers have been working to combat nursing home abuse and neglect. Organizations like Illinois Citizens for Better Care (ICBC), the Center for Justice and Democracy, and the regional Ombudsmen program can help you determine whether your loved one is a victim of abuse and neglect.

Society for the Preservation of Human Dignity Gala

On May 5, the Society for the Preservation of Human Dignity (PHD) held its “Spirit of Life Gala”. PHD is an organization founded on the philosophy that human life is sacred. It strives to preserve the dignity and rights of their clients as individuals, to give them opportunities for growth, and renew hope for the future. The center for pregnancy help and education offers counseling, education, and integrated support services to meet the unique practical and emotional needs of each individual. The gala raised awareness and funds through a live auction, silent auction, and generous donations. Notably, Steven M. Levin and John J. Perconti of Levin & Perconti contributed $10,000 to the Marion Stocker Sponsorship.

Emphasizing Accountability in Nursing Home Cases

This month’s issue of Trial: Journal of the American Association for Justice published litigation tips submitted by Levin & Perconti’s Steven M. Levin regarding ways to emphasize accountability in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. The advice focuses on ways of contrasting your client’s personal responsibility against the nursing home’s accountability in order to overcome juror bias. This includes methods of stressing ways the family acted responsibly and asking jurors to hold the nursing home accountable for choosing to ignore its policies and procedures, failing to hire enough staff, and committing other negligent acts it is accused of.

For the full article click here.

3 Kentucky nursing homes charged with nursing home neglect and abuse

Kentucky has experienced a heightened rate for nursing home abuse and neglect reports. The troubles began in March 2006 after a state investigation turned up evidence of neglect that may have led to at least one nursing home abuse and neglect related death. Two more nursing received Type A citations recently. The first citation stated that the nursing home failed to change a patient's feeding tube for four days, leading to dehydration and rapid weight loss. The second citation accused the home of not properly hydrating and monitoring a resident who later died.

For the full article.

Wrongful death bill passes Illinois Senate

The Illinois Senate passed HB 1798 on Thursday, May 17 by a vote of 31-23. The bill now heads to the Governor for signing. If passed, the bill would allow damages for grief, sorrow, and mental anguish for the wrongful death of a loved one.

A roll call on this vote can be found here.
For more information on the bill.

Nursing home company settles Nebraska nursing home abuse lawsuit

A nursing home company recently settled a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit. The nursing home abuse lawsuit accuses the nursing home of neglecting its patients and allowing the woman to lie in her own waste of hours at a time after back surgery. The nursing home abuse lawsuit stated that the victim developed an infection which spread because the doctors weren’t told for several days.

For the full article.

Tip: Avoid signing nursing home agreement

A recent elder advocate forum cautions not to sign a document when admitting a parent, grandparent, friend, or spouse to a nursing home unless you are acting as a power of attorney or guardian. One person recently made the mistake of doing so and receiving billings for transportation costs not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. The Nursing Home Reform Law prohibits a nursing home from requiring a third party guarantor as a condition of a resident’s admission or continued stay.

Some heart medications may help prevent dementia

A recent study may be of interest to nursing home residents: The study’s results suggest that elderly Americans who take certain blood pressure drugs may also be protecting themselves from declines in memory and other brain function. The drugs that researchers believe are preventative are part of a class known as ACE inhibitors. The study found a link between taking these drugs and lower rates of mental decline. This is in addition to a previous study about the effects of inhibitor medication on dementia.

For the full article.

One month left to register for Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education seminar featuring Michael F. Bonamarte IV

Reminder: there is one month left to register for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) Personal Injury Practice Update on June 15, 2007 at the UBS Tower in Chicago. An additional seminar will be held on June 29, 2007 at Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Illinois. Michael F. Bonamarte IV of Levin & Perconti will be addressing wrongful death and nursing home negligence. A video encore will be held September 4, 2007 at University Center in Chicago.

For more information.

To register.

Texas voters approve property tax relief for elderly

Voters have decided to amend the Texas Constitution to provide property tax relief for elderly Texans. Without about two-thirds the precincts reporting, 89% favored the amendment. The change was necessary to get around a freeze on tax rates for elderly and disabled and allow them to enjoy the rate cut that all other homeowners got in a recent tax relief package.

For the full article.

Medicare Part D drug prices increase at annual rate of almost 14%

Prices for 10 of the most prescribed brand-name medications have shot up an average of 6.8% since December under Medicare private insurance plans, while wholesale prices for the same drugs have only risen 3%. For example, the cost of a month’s supply of cholesterol-controlling Lipitor had climbed 9.6% percent. Premiums for Medicare drug plans have jumped 13 percent over the past year.

For the full article.

California nursing home faces two wrongful death lawsuits

A San Francisco Bay Area nursing home was served last week with two wrongful death lawsuits filed by a local couple. The lawsuits allege that the nursing home neglected and ignored the plaintiffs’ mother, failing to prevent further falls, including a fatal fall on January 4, 2006. Despite being on notice that the resident was prone to falling, the nursing home failed to take preventative measures and are now facing allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect.

For the full article.

Nursing home employee pleads guilty to criminal mistreatment of 73 year-old resident

A Washington nursing home employee pleaded guilty last week to criminal mistreatment of a 73 year-old resident who was denied medication, suffered bed sores and later died in an extreme case of nursing home abuse and neglect. The former employee was originally charged with manslaughter and faces between six months and one year in jail. The emergency room doctor who treated the 73 year-old said that a lack of medication, liquid and food had put the resident in a coma and caused her kidneys to fail.

For the full article.

Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit filed against East Peoria nursing home

The family of an 81 year-old woman who died in an East Peoria nursing home has filed an Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuit against the nursing home complex. The resident died in April, one day after a police raid at the Illinois nursing home turned up numerous workers and residents wanted on outstanding criminal warrants. The Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit alleges that the facility did not maintain a proper standard of care and created an environment in which elderly residents feared for their safety. The family is represented by Levin & Perconti.

For the full article.

Boulevard Healthcare hosting its annual medical directors meeting; Steven Levin delivering keynote address

On May 22nd, Boulevard Healthcare will be hosting its annual Medical Directors meeting. The keynote address will be delivered by Steven M. Levin of Levin & Perconti. Mr. Levin will be addressed Litigation in Long Term Care: The Emerging Storm.

For more information.


Former nursing home owner sentenced

A former owner of several Texas nursing homes has been sentenced to 42 months of imprisonment after being convicted of Medicare and Medicaid fraud and money laundering. In addition to the prison sentence, a U.S. District Judge ordered the former owner to serve three years of supervised release and pay more than $4 million in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid.

For the full article.

Comedian launches “Long Term Care Tour” to celebrate National Nursing Home Week

Drew Velting, a New York Psychologist, will be taking his geriatric-friendly, stand-up comedy show on the road to observe National Nursing Home Week (May 13-19). Over a span of two weeks, the comedian will entertain residents and staff at elder care centers. He loves performing at nursing homes and is convinced that laughter promotes hope and recovery.

For the full article.

Urgent action needed: contact Senator Susan Garrett

The Illinois Senate will be voting on HB 1798 this week. We need you to contact State Senator Susan Garrett now and urge her to vote YES on HB 1798. HB 1798 would allow damages for grief, sorrow, and mental anguish for the wrongful death of a loved one. Senator Garret has indicated that she has heard from many doctors regarding their opposition to this bill. Senator Garrett’s phone number is (847) 433-2002.

For more information on the bill.

Staff withheld care from dementia nursing home resident because of epithets

A nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit was recently filed against a Louisiana nursing home, alleging that the staff neglected a resident with dementia to the point of abuse because she cursed the staff using racial epithets. The resident’s son says that his mother’s treatment was acceptable until the last 18 months of her life when Alzheimer’s and dementia made her lash out verbally at nursing home staff.

During this time, the nursing home resident developed bruises, large bedsores, bloody wounds, and had difficulty breathing. The nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit also claims that the resident’s undergarments were often unchanged for long periods and she was often left without the oxygen tank she required.

For the full article.

NCCNHR requests your help in contacting Congressmen

Recently, the NCCNHR represented nursing home residents, family members, and other consumer advocates at a Senate Aging Committee hearing. Executive Director Alice Hedt made recommendations about improving conditions in nursing homes and preventing nursing home abuse and neglect. Now is the time for Congress to act on those recommendations. You can help by doing the following:

Write your Congressman, expressing support for recommendations made by NCCNHR.

Identify opportunities for you to share your experiences with enforcement and staffing through letters to the editor, talk shows, and radio shows. This will get the press to focus on nursing home issues. Share your efforts with Jessica Brill at jbrill@nccnhr.org.

For more information on the National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform.

Fire safety: more product recalls

1. Oil-Filled Electric Heaters: The Holmes Group of Milford, Massachusetts is voluntarily recalling about 300,000 Holmes Oil-Filled Electric Heaters. A poor electrical connection within the heater can lead to overheating, posing fire and thermal burn hazards. For more information.

2. Gas Grills: Winmax is voluntarily recalling about 600 Char-Broil Two-Burner Gas Grills Model 463720407. The recalled grills could have an incorrect heat shield that does not fit the grills. Without the correct heat shield, the parts could overheat and present a risk of fire and burn. For more information.

Editorial focuses on choosing nursing homes

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one is never an easy task, especially with the increase in nursing home and abuse. A Nebraska editorial recently highlighted what assistance is out there for individuals choosing nursing homes for their loved ones.

For the full article.

Consumer groups seek end to two-year waiting period for Medicare

A coalition of 34 consumer groups has begun to lobby Congress to revise a law that requires individuals with disabilities to wait two years to become eligible for Medicare after they begin to receive Social Security benefits. Medicare implemented the wait period in 1972; however, a recent report stated that the law is sentencing people to inadequate health care, poverty, and death.

For the full article.

Medicare proposes nursing home rate jump

United States Medicare proposed a $690 million increase in payments to nursing homes yesterday. The 3.3% increase would contribute towards nursing facilities that provide care to Medicare beneficiaries. Such an increase may help relieve the nursing home staffing crisis that nursing homes currently face. Public comments on the proposed change will be accepted until June.

For the full article.