Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Edwardsville Terrace

Edwardsville Terrace, a care facility in Southern Illinois, recently received several Type “A” Violations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and fined $20,000. The violations resulted from a mismanaged healthcare emergency situation at the facility which involved nursing home abuse and neglect.

A mentally disabled and diabetic resident of the facility had been ill for several weeks. However, staff of the nursing home failed to properly provide close monitoring after the illness, such as recorded daily vital signs. In addition, they did not properly check the resident’s blood-sugar levels. Ultimately, the resident had a severe reaction to a medication, which nursing home staff should have known was going to occur.

Illinois nursing home investigators declared that Edwardsville Terrace staff had been negligent in failing to provide proper oversight of the resident’s illness and developing complications. They should have enacted necessary, systematic check-ups to ensure that the resident received the proper treatment.

Many residents live in nursing homes specifically because the homes are suppose to provide the quick, expert medical care necessary in life and death emergency situations. But all too often, nursing homes fail to provide the care that residents count on. Failure to provide proper emergency care is just one of many forms of nursing home negligence.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have experience fighting for victims of negligent nursing home care. Be sure to contact them or any similar attorney if you know of violations similar to the one at Edwardsville Terrace.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the IDPH report on this violation, please click the link.

Illinois Nursing Home Reform Bill Signed Into Law

The AP reports that yesterday, Governor Pat Quinn signed an Illinois nursing home reform bill into law. The new legislation will serve to protect nursing home residents from abuse and neglect while improving the quality of care in Illinois nursing homes. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys have been actively involved in the fight for better care and are pleased to see new measures in place.

The bill is the result of months of hard work by lawmakers, nursing home advocates, family members and community organizations that all saw a need for reform in our nursing homes. The Chicago Reporter first called attention to the inadequate care and racial disparities in Chicago nursing homes last July. The Chicago Tribune later ran a series of “Compromised Care” reports that drew widespread attention to the issues surrounding nursing home residents in Illinois. Both of these publications did an excellent job of raising public awareness surrounding poor care in our nursing homes and their reports forced lawmakers to examine the problems in Illinois nursing homes.

In October, the governor convened a Nursing Home Task Force to study the issues, including the practice of housing young residents suffering from mental illnesses alongside older, vulnerable residents. Several months later, bills in both the House and Senate were introduced to address the problems identified by the Task Force. This work resulted in bill that was signed yesterday by the Governor.

The legislation will take a number of steps to improve care in nursing homes throughout Chicago and across the state. One of the most important measures is increased staffing ratios. This will help to ensure that nursing homes are better staffed. When nursing homes have proper staffing, workers can give better care and attention to individual residents, leading to fewer instances of abuse and neglect. The new law will also require the Illinois Department of Public Health to employ more nursing home inspectors who will go into the field to inspect nursing homes to make certain that they comply with the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

Our attorneys commend advocates and lawmakers for their work to bring positive changes to Illinois nursing homes. We hope that the measures brought about by this legislation will bring better quality care to residents and reduce the incidence of nursing homes abuse and neglect throughout the state.

Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed Against Negligent Facility

Frances Graham was 81 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease when she died at the Andrew Elijah Guest Home – a health facility that was supposed to care for elderly residents in need of close supervision and care. However, Ms. Graham was unable to die with dignity, as her passing was caused by severe bed sores that were 4 inches deep in some areas, rotting down to the tendon. In addition, at the time of her death her body was covered in cuts and bruises. Eventually, her visiting son noticed that she was having trouble breathing; he demanded she be sent to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and died shortly after.

The chilling circumstances of her death prompted a nursing home lawsuit against the Andrew Elijah Guest Home, reports The Oakland Tribune. The pressure sores that had bore through Ms. Graham’s skin were caused by inadequate care, as staff members left her immobile in her bed for days at a time without proper cleaning and movement.

Also, staff members at the nursing home allowed another resident sharing a room with Ms. Graham to severely attack the vulnerable senior with a hair pick. The cuts and bruises found of her body were caused by the attack. The attacking roommate had a history of aggressive behavior and was unable to speak English. However, instead of properly investigating the new roommate to ensure that she posed no threat to Ms. Graham, nursing home staff did nothing and set the stage for the elderly assault.

On top of all of that, records revealed that staff members were illegally housing Ms. Graham at the facility, because the particular home where Ms. Graham stayed provided inadequate staffing levels for someone with her disability. The facility was intended only to house more functioning seniors. In other words, as soon as Ms. Graham was allowed to enter the facility, her mistreatment was virtually a foregone conclusion.

This isn’t the first case of negligence at the facility. Last year the nursing home was cited by public health officials because one resident suffering from dementia had not visited a doctor in five years. State law required yearly doctor visits.

Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti remain shocked by the degree of abuse and negligence that pervades many elder nursing facilities. Far too many of our seniors are forced to live in squalid conditions with basic needs unmet, because nursing home administrators fail to commit the necessary resources to provide proper care. Please do not let similar acts of abuse go unreported. Contact our offices if you know any nursing home abuse or negligence.

The Many Forms of Elder Financial Abuse

The Quad City Times recently highlighted the widespread problem of elder financial abuse and the various forms in which it occurs.

Elderly residents remain vulnerable to being taken advantage of in many circumstances. For example, Brian Lovett was startled to discover that his 94-year old mother had written various checks to public safety organization, a rodeo, and police organization hundreds of miles from her Iowa home. Mr. Lovett’s mother died this year, suffering from dementia for several years before her passing. He believes that these organizations kept soliciting his mother because she mentally wasn’t aware of where her donations were going, even though she had no connection to their services.

While Ms. Lovett’s example may exist on the borderline of financial exploitation, thousands of other seniors each year are purposefully targeted and swindled out of the savings that they spent their lives earning. Estimates suggest that $2.6 billion each year is taken from vulnerable seniors due to elder financial abuse.

In fact, many elder service professionals report that cases of financial abuse are much more frequent than direct neglect and abuse. One bank officer explained one common form of the problem, noting, “In my experience, we have to be careful of what we call ‘professional beneficiaries.’ These are people who gain a senior’s trust and then get control of their finances.”

Illinois recently passed a new law intending to help train bank employees to recognize the red flags that suggest elder financial abuse. However, even with that training, elder abuse is still likely to occur, because only a fraction of cases is ever reported. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are well aware of the financial abuse of many elderly residents. We have seen the abuse occur at the hand of family members, friends, and at nursing homes. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant and active in rooting out the problem. Contact nursing home lawyers if you know of any elder abuse or neglect.

Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit Filed After Falling Death

Eighty-nine year old Agnes Hauser died at the Davenport Good Samaritan Society late last summer following a fall in her room at the nursing home. The Quad-City Times reported on the new suit which alleges nursing home negligence against the facility for its failure to properly asses Ms. Hauser as a fall risk, failure to develop adequate interventions to prevent the fall, and failure to properly train its staff to handle similar potential risks.

Ms. Hauser was only at the facility slightly more than three months before falling in her room. When taken to the nearby hospital, doctors discovered that she had broken her neck, and they put her in a neck halo. The halo required very close supervision and cleaning, because the halo caused her neck skin to rub and tear. Because of that, nursing home staff needed to provide aggressive care to wash the harmed area and remove dead skin. Ms. Hauser ultimately had to get the halo replaced, and died at the nursing home shortly after that replacement.

Ms. Hauser’s daughter filed the lawsuit which alleged that Good Samaritan was negligent in allowing her mother to fall at the facility. Nursing homes are required to fairly assess the risks posed to each particular resident’s health and safety. The facility must then take the appropriate steps to limit the chance of harm or injury accordingly. However, in this case, the nursing home is claimed to have failed by not properly ensuring that Ms. Hauser was never put into a position where the risk of her falling was high.

Injuries and negligence like this occur every day at nursing homes across the country. Falls, in particular, are all too common occurrence at these care facilities. What’s worse is that these harmful falls often begin a chain of medical complications that frequently ends in permanent disability or death. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti fight every day for victims of this nursing home negligence. In one case out of Lake County, we successfully negotiated a $1 million settlement with the nursing home facility after a resident died from complications following a fall. As in the case of Ms. Hauser, the nursing home in Lake County knew that the resident was prone to falls but did nothing to limit the reoccurrence of the deadly accident.

Please seek representation if you know anyone who suffered similar injury or death due to preventable falls at a nursing home.

Nursing Homes Chemically Restraining their Residents

Channel 10 News in San Diego reported on troubling claims of nursing home abuse made by the daughter of a nursing home resident who died at the facility last year. The abuse was an example of “chemical restraint,” where residents are essentially fed drugs in order to ensure that they are essentially immobile, so that nursing home staff members can do even less work to care for them.

Dr. Keith Blair was a lifelong dentist before entering Arbor Hill Nursing Center to help cope with some mild dementia. Dr. Blair’s health was suffering, and the care workers at the facility were supposed to provide close care to help Dr. Blair recoup. However, instead of providing close monitoring, the nursing staff at the facility gave him doses of anti-psychotic drugs, Risperdal and Haldol, without his consent. Both drugs contain specifics warnings as having increased mortality risks in elderly patients.

The negligent nursing home staff willfully committed the medication error as a way to control their residents. Dr. Reid’s daughter remembers visiting her father only to discover that he was completely out of it while on the medication, unable to leave the bed or remain active in any way. Ultimately, the unlawful use of drugs led to Dr. Reid’s death not long after his arrival at the facility.

Unfortunately, Dr. Reid’s case is not an isolated incident. In fact, the problem is reaching huge proportions. A federal Food and Drug administration expert, Dr. David Graham reported to Congress last year that upwards of 15,000 elderly nursing home residents die each year because of this off-label use of drugs.

Even more startling is the fact that tax-payers currently pay the bill for these drugs given to elderly nursing home residents. As nursing home reform advocate Carole Herman explains, “We are basically paying for elderly abuse in this country.”

The cause of this deadly and destructive drugging practice is a drive for ever increasing profits for the nursing home industry. On top of that, many states provide only weak oversight of these medical restraints in their nursing homes. That means that the problem will likely continue to plague thousands of elderly Americans each year.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are proud to fight for the rights of victims of nursing home abuse and their families. Our decades of legal experiences have shown us that nursing home negligence comes in many forms, including the unnecessary use of anti-psychotic drugs to control residents. Our elderly deserve respect and proper care when they enter these homes. If you suspect any chemical restraint at a nearby nursing home, contact a skilled nursing home attorney to learn how to help end the abusive practice.

Nursing Home Lawsuit Filed After Resident Death

A 2007 death at a nursing home in Rochester, Minnesota has led to a nursing home lawsuit. The suit alleges medical malpractice and wrongful death against the facility whose negligent care led to the death.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin is reporting on the lawsuit, which involved two residents with dementia at the Sunrise Assisted Living Facility. In August 2007, the victim, Donald R. Salli, was found on the floor of the facility with another resident kicking him repeatedly in the back. Mr. Salli also pointed to a large hematoma on his own head, indicating beating in the head and neck area as well.

However, even after this beating, Mr. Salli was not examined by a licensed nurse until seven hours later. Perhaps nervous that they would be reprimanded for allowing the attack to occur, staff members did not seek any emergency care for the injured resident.

The following night, Mr. Salli awoke in severe pain and was finally sent to the emergency room where it was discovered that he had a fractured skull with severe bleeding around his brain along with several fractured ribs. After a week in intensive care, Mr. Salli was released to hospice care and died in early October 2008.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Salli challenged the negligent oversight provided by staff members that allowed the brutal beating to occur and the severely inadequate medical care given to Mr. Salli following his attack. As in this case, one negligent act by nursing home staff members is often compounded into others which have deadly consequences for the residents who depend on their care.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are skilled at rooting out fatal nursing home abuses like that which plagued Mr. Salli. Too often residents are left alone for too long, leading to harmful interactions that could have been prevented. In addition, inadequate nursing home staffing levels and inexperienced care workers can fail to seek proper emergency care for their residents, allowing injuries to develop beyond the point of repair. If you suspect any similar treatment at a nursing home, please contact a nursing home attorney to learn more about what can be done to prevent any further harm.

Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Collinsville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center

The Collinsville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, afacility in Southern Illinois near St. Louis, recently received several Type “A” Violations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and fined $20,000. The violations resulted from mismanaged situation resulting in one resident sexually abusing another.

One resident at the facility was allowed to attempt sexual assault on another resident on two separate occasions. The abusive resident went up to the victim without her notice while she was leaving a bathroom and pulled up her skirt. The victim immediately told staff members about the situation, but they did nothing. Later, the same resident went back into the victim’s room, held her to her bed, told her to be quiet, and attempted to remove her garments. Luckily, the victim’s screams ultimately scared the man away, and he fled the room.

Records indicated that the man had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, abusive conduct, and mental illnesses. He was admitted to the facility from the U.S. Medical Center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. The Collinsville facility had failed to perform even a basic background check on the individual before admitting him.

Illinois nursing home investigators declared that Collinsville Center staff had been negligent in failing to protect the abused resident from her attacker and not properly screening and dealing with the abusive resident.

Negligent nursing homes are dangerous living environment for seniors, because staff members do not adequately protect vulnerable residents from both internal and external threats. Those threats come in both physical abuse and negligent emergency care. In either care, victims and their families deserve compensation for the losses they suffer.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have experience fighting for victims of negligent nursing home care. Be sure to contact them or any similar attorney if you know of violations similar to the one at Collinsville Community Center.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the IDPH report on this violation, please click the link.

Illinois Caregiver Steals from Elderly Patient

The Daily Herald reported this week on a disturbing example of elder financial exploitation out of Wheaton, Illinois. Angelica Ledesma was hired to care for an 82-year old elderly woman who lived in the western Chicago suburb. Like so many other seniors when they reach a certain age, the Wheaton woman needed close assistance to complete necessary day-to-day responsibilities, and Ledesma was tasked with providing that needed care.

However, authorities discovered that Ledesma was interested in more than the job of assisting her elderly client. Instead, the caregiver hoped to profit in other ways from her position. While at the elderly Wheaton woman’s home, Ledesma reportedly stole several valuable pieces of jewelry.

In a two month period from December to February this year Ledesma stole two gold rings (one containing multiple rubies), crystal figurines, and a bracelet. On top of all of that, Ledesma also snatched the engagement ring that the Wheaton woman’s deceased husband had given to her decades prior. In total, the stolen items had a value around $5,000.

The theft of the engagement ring proved to be Ledesma undoing, as its absence spurred the elderly victim into a panicked search of her home. Ledesma attempted to return the items when it was discovered that they were missing, but she eventually confessed when questioned by police about the missing items.

Elder financial exploitation continues to affect hundreds of thousands of seniors each year. Some attempts are being made at limiting the problem, including passage of a new law in Illinois to train bank workers on the signs of financial abuse. However, the new law addresses only one forms of financial exploitation. Many other forms, including theft occurring in nursing homes, are likely to continue unless individuals report any suspicious activity. Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti are committed to helping victims of this abuse receive the compensation they deserve for their losses. Please contact us if you know of a victim, so that we can assist in the recovery process.

Chicago Nursing Homes Using Scare Tactics to Keep Residents From Leaving

The Chicago Tribune reported recently on a new lawsuit filed by nursing home reform advocates against profit-driven nursing home operators.

Currently, over 4,500 Illinois residents with mental disabilities live in twenty four specifically designated Institutions for Mental Disease (IMDs) throughout the state. However, in a recent court settlement, the state pledged to allow some of those residents the option of transferring to community-based housing programs if they chose to leave the IMD. Only residents who passed specific screenings to assess their mental health level would be given the option of seeking out other living situations.

The recent nursing home lawsuit filed by the resident advocates claim that the IMDs are sending information to residents about the settlement that is confusing, misleading, and intended to provoke fear. The IMDs are attempting to scare all residents into preserving the status quo, claim the advocates. In that way, the operators of the IMDs are able to ensure that their profit-making nursing homes do not lose any money as residents leave their facility.

For example, Abbot House, an IMD located in Highland Park, sent “information sheets” to its residents claiming that troubling state finances make it unlikely that the state would be able to provide the proper services if residents chose to move to the community-based housing programs.

The entire situation was created by a previous consent decree which sought to uphold the basic principle that mentally ill Illinois residents should be forced to live only in the least restrictive housing situation necessary to protect their health and safety. Under the older system, all residents, regardless of their mental condition were forced to abide by the restrictions within the IMDs. The community-based housing options sought to allow the higher functioning residents a more open living choice with assistance provided as needed in subsidized apartment and group-home settings.

The fear-mongering by the Institutions for Mental Disease is another desperate ploy that highlights a pervasive problem at many nursing homes across the state: the prioritizing of money over resident care. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti have experienced many forms of this problem. Whether it is failing to adequately staff a facility in order to spend less on salaries or deciding not to pay the costs necessary to improve substandard facilities, all too often nursing home administrators provide negligent care in order to save money.

No nursing home resident should be given less than they are entitled so that more money may end up in the hands of for-profit businessmen. Be sure to keep a vigilant eye on all activities in the nursing homes nearby and contact an attorney if your suspect someone has suffered from abusive and negligent nursing home care.

Caregiver Arrested For Elder Financial Abuse

ABC7 News is reporting of another example of the vulnerable financial situation of many senior citizens. In an appalling case of elder financial exploitation, a ninety year old woman, Marian McGlone, had hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen from her savings by her caregiver, Erma Jean Williams.

Ms. Williams is accused of taking nearly $200,000 from the elderly woman and her husband. Ms. McGlone experienced mental instability as she aged becoming confused about situations and having difficulty with her memory. Her caregiver took advantage of that weakness, ultimately using the elderly woman’s money to remodel her home and buy a new care, among other illegal abuses. The true extent of what was taken by the greedy caregiver may never fully be known.

In fact, as Ms. McGlone’s health deteriorated even further, Erma Jean Williams attempted to ensure that theft could last even longer by trying to get Ms. McGlone to change her will to include Ms. Williams. On two different occasions Erma Jean forced Ms. McGlone to visit an attorney and attempt to change the will. Luckily, it was obvious from the elderly woman’s mental condition that she was not stable enough to change the document. The attorneys at the office were vigilant enough to ensure that the abuse did not continue.

Ms. McGlone died two weeks after the last attempt to change her will. Shortly after her passing the extent of Ms. Williams abuse finally came to light. It was also discovered that Erma Jean had several previous arrests that were unknown to the McGlone children when they were looking for a caregiver for their mother.

As we’ve recently documented on this blog, elder financial abuse is an shockingly large problem that receives far too little attention. Some estimates claim that one in five elderly individuals are victims of similar conduct. It occurs in all circumstances, between family members, at-home caregivers, and at nursing homes. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have seen the abuse case after case. That is why we approve of measures taken this week by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, which require bank officials to do more to ensure that they report questionable financial transactions with their elderly customers.

It is often very difficult to detect abuse of elderly finances. If you suspect you know a victim, please contact our office today to learn about your options.

Nursing Home Operator Charged With Elderly Neglect

Another unfortunate example of elder abuse announced yesterday in Florida highlights the constant need to provide close scrutiny of all facilities providing care to our vulnerable seniors.

ABC Action News reported on the arrest of the Juanita Jackson Wright an assisted facility operator. Ms. Wright operated five nursing home which were supposed to provide critical care to elderly residents in the area. However, the state task force charged with rooting out illegal and negligent Medicare and Medicaid conduct discovered the three of those facilities were not even licensed by the state.

Of course, states require these facilities to maintain a proper license in order to ensure that the facility is abiding by all of the legal requirements enacted to ensure proper care of the residents at the home, including adequate staffing levels, appropriate emergency training, physical safeguards at the facility, and many other requirements.

Besides not obtaining licenses, Ms. Wright’s nursing homes had already been condemned by state officials. Investigators had discovered so many errors and dangerous conditions at the facility that they determined the homes to be unfit for habitation.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are experienced in holding nursing homes accountable. We have fought time and again for residents who have been injured and neglected in homes failing to abide by state and federal law. For example, we successfully negotiated a $1.5 million settlement with a nursing home that had violated that Nursing Home Care Reform Act. The legal and technical requirements created to monitor these facilities can be dense and confusing. That is exactly why you should seek out experts who have years of experience understanding these laws and fighting for the victims when they have been ignored. If you suspect any questionable behavior at a nursing home nearby, please don’t wait until it is too late. Contact a nursing home attorney immediately.

Follow the link to read more about this latest example of nursing home neglect.

Nursing Home Closed After Abuse and Neglect

Another nursing home is being closed amid continuous examples of substandard care, dangerous negligence, and unabashed elder abuse reports First Coast News. The Glenwood Nursing Center in Arlington, Florida is being shut down by the state’s Department of Health, in a rare move spurred by repeated examples of inadequate care by the nursing home staff members.

The one hundred residents in the home will be relocated and nursing home administrators may be fined $25,000 on top of the closure after state officials conducted an unannounced visit to the home earlier this year. Investigations during the visit revealed unsupervised and dangerous facility. Residents were falling at an alarming rate; there were several instances of resident on resident abuse and many examples of dangerous resident wandering. One patient was actually able to leave the facility and reach the next county before he was recovered.

State officials explain that the nursing home administrators were well aware of many of the problems at the facility but simply chose not to fix them. It is one thing for an unavoidable accident to occur at a facility, but it is a totally different matter when those in charge of the facility knowingly allow dangerous situations to persist.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti applaud all decisions which better protect the vulnerable seniors in our nursing homes. Too often, dangerous facilities like Glenwood are allowed to continue operations, harming more and more elderly residents. A strong message needs to be continually sent to nursing home administrators, medical staff, and other assistants, that inadequate care will never be tolerated. Friends and family of nursing home residents are often a key source in providing information that holds negligent nursing homes accountable. If you have any suspicions about inadequate care at a nearby facility, be sure to contact our office or a similar office to learn more about your options.

Illinois Governor Signs Legislation Targeting Elder Financial Abuse

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill today which seeks to limit senior financial exploitation across the state. Abusing the finances of elderly residents is often cited as the most common form of senior abuse. Many seniors are especially vulnerable to financial exploitation, because they lack the ability to adequately defend themselves.

The abuse can take many forms and occur at the hands of various individuals. Earlier this month we posted on the financial abuse of an elderly couple by a fraudulent individual who claimed to provide necessary roofing work on their home. Instead of provided any home repair, however, the individual took the several thousand dollar payments from the couple without doing any work.

Also, elderly financial exploitation often occurs at the hands of nursing home staff members. Providing care to these vulnerable residents, nursing home staff members maintain a dominant and potentially abusive role in the lives of nursing home residents. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience in dealing with all forms of elder abuse, including financial exploitation. Through the years our attorneys have seen many cases of nursing home staff members gaining access to their residents’ funds and stealing thousands of dollars from the weak and vulnerable individuals in their care.

The bill signed by the governor today to combat these abuses seeks to train bank employees to recognize the warning signs associated with elder financial exploitation. Those warning signals include sudden changes to an account or the banking practices of seniors, unauthorized ATM withdrawals, sudden changes to a will, and other similar activities.

Last year alone, Illinois had over 6,200 reported cases of senior financial abuse. However, only 3% of those cases were reported by banking representatives. Hopefully this new legislation increases the role of the banks in protecting vulnerable seniors from this prevalent problem. In any case, anyone who suspects an elderly family or friend may be the victim of similar abuse should report it immediately.

To read more about the newly signed legislation, please Click Here.

Inadequate Staffing Causes Nursing Home Negligence

A recent post on My Elder Advocate, provided a call to arms arguing that state legislatures needed to address the inadequate and harmful nursing home staff ratios.

The article mentioned two New York nursing home residents who were placed on what was supposed to be closely monitored skin assessments, turning, and positioning to help correct pressure sores. However, mostly due to inadequate nursing care, the residents’ condition worsened, leading to even more pressure sores and renal failure.

Unfortunately, those were not two isolated examples. Understaffed nursing home facilities abound throughout the country, acting as one of the leading causes of nursing home negligence. For example, a 1996 study by the Institute of Medicine found that staffing ratios have a large effect on resident nutrition. Without enough employees, staff members often do not feed residents patiently, leading to poor nutrition and dehydration.

Interviews with nursing home staff indicate that inadequate care is typically not a product of abuse or active negligence. Instead, staff members often simply do not have time to provide the care that each resident is entitled. No matter what the reason, however, improper care is never an acceptable practice when the life and death of our seniors hang in the balance.

Besides simply allowing all necessary care to be provided, proper staffing levels also have the effect on limiting nursing turnover at these facilities. Many nurses do not stay long at any single facility often due to the hectic schedule and requirements caused by inadequate staffing levels. High turnover leads to increased training costs and ultimately inferior care, as new staff members require a learning curve. If sufficient nursing levels were maintained consistently at these facilities, than the proper care would be provided and more nurses would chose to stay at a single location decreased the cost and efficiency problems associated with high turnover rates.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti support all measures that strive to increase the ratio of staff members to residents at Illinois nursing homes. Our decades of experience include countless examples of nursing home abuse and negligence that is often directly related to inadequate staff numbers. Many nursing homes are run as big business operations with cost-cutting taking priority over resident health and safety. All advocates need to provide close watch of our local nursing homes to ensure that each has enough staff members to provide the care our senior residents deserve.

Illinois Nursing Home Violation: California Gardens Nursing and Rehab Center

The California Gardens Nursing and Rehab Center, a care facility on the southwest side of Chicago, recently received a Type “A” Violation from the Illinois Department of Public Health and fined $5,000. The violation resulted from mismanaged situations at the facility which involve nursing home neglect.

Contrary to proper procedure, a resident at the facility was allowed to obtain cigarettes and smoke unsupervised in his own bedroom on several occasions. Previously, the resident had burned his chest while smoking on his room while lying down. On subsequent interviews with the resident by investigators, it became clear that the problem had still not been resolved. The resident continued to obtain cigarettes and lighting capabilities.

This particular resident had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, seizure disorder, cerebral vascular accident-prone, and diabetes. Those vulnerabilities plus the resident’s history of inappropriate smoking, mean that nursing home administrators and staff need to provide extra oversight of the resident to ensure that future violations no longer occur. The smoking presented a hazard to all residents in the facility.

Many residents live in nursing homes specifically because the homes are supposed to provide quick, expert medical care and proper oversight. But all too often, nursing homes fail to provide the oversight that residents count on. Failure to provide proper oversight of residents is just one of many forms of nursing home negligence.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have experience fighting for victims of negligent nursing home care. In one case, we successfully negotiated a $1.5 million settlement for a nursing home resident, whose smoking was improperly monitored, leading to severe burns and ultimately death.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the IDPH report on this violation, please click the link.

$29 Million Nursing Home Abuse Verdict Upheld

One of the largest elder abuse verdicts ever handed down was upheld this week according to the Sacramento Bee. A Superior Court judge recently kept intact the $29 million verdict against Horizon West HealthCare resulting from the 2005 death of one of its residents.

Frances Tanner had retired from a life of public service with both the FBI and IRS before arriving at Horizon in 2005. While at the facility, Ms. Tanner suffered a fall that broke her hip. The broken hip went undiagnosed for days. Eventually, after being bedridden and receiving highly inadequate care, she died of an infected bed sore. Pressure sores are almost always preventable and the result of negligent nursing home care.

At trial evidence revealed that Horizon chronically understaffed its facility, violating state law which mandated a minimum number of care hours. Horizon clearly did not prioritize the care of its residents, instead sacrificing their health to operate in any way that was cheap and easy. As the opinion upholding the $29 million verdict commented, Horizon’s operation was “based, time and again, predominantly on concern for the bottom line.”

The jury awarded included $800,000 for pain and suffering and nearly $28 million in punitive damages. The punitive damage award is intended to punish the horribly inadequate, harmful, abusive conduct of Horizon. The purpose is to discourage the company (which runs 33 other nursing homes) from acting is such a harmful manner in the future.

Horizon had claimed that the award was too high. The Superior Court judge shot that idea down, noting that, “this was an overwhelming case. It does not deserve to be retried. That would be a travesty.”

Our nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti have fought many battles on behalf of many innocent victims like Ms. Tanner who have been abused by big nursing homes chains. All residents and their family and friends need to be extra vigilant to ensure that these corporations provide appropriate care to the patients depending on them.

Illinois to Continue Process of Shutting Down Evergreen HealthCare Center

A Southwest Star article this week discussed the latest updated in the license revocation situation of the Evergreen HealthCare Center in Evergreen Park.

Evergreen is a facility that has repeatedly been found to have provided negligent care to its nursing home residents. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti have filed multiple suits against the healthcare center in the past. Elder abuse abounds at the nursing home where residents have died from repeated failures by administrators, staff medical professionals, and aides.

We currently represent Cornelia Lee, who died after Evergreen facility staff failed to provide close monitoring of her medical prescription schedule, ultimately missing doses, failing to keep log charts, and not informing her doctor of abnormal test results. In another case, a resident at Evergreen died because of staff failure to monitor developing pressure sores on a bedridden senior resident. These are just two of many other examples of negligent, abuse, and substandard care provided at the Illinois nursing home.

Due to these clear abuses, the Illinois Department of Public Health decided to revoke the Evergreen’s license and close the facility to ensure that no future Illinois seniors are harmed by the negligent nursing home care.

In a last-ditch effort to stave off closing, the facility is appealing the license revocation decision claiming that it has fixed all compliance issues. An Evergreen spokesperson declared that the should stop the license revocation process because of the these last-ditch corrective measures.

However in response to these Evergreen claims, Illinois public health officials repeated that regardless of whether or not the facility is currently compliant, “they have this history of serious deficiencies.” Illinois health officials repeated that they will not stop plans to revoke Evergreen’s license. Evergreen officials will appeal the decision and have requested a hearing.

Illinois Resident Files Lawsuit Against Negligent Nursing Home

My Journal Courier reported on a nursing home lawsuit filed by James Niles following the premature 2007 death of his 66 year old mother, Neida Niles. The suit was first filed in Cook County, but the Jacksonville, Illinois based defendants had the case moved downstate to Morgan County.

Neida was a resident of the Prairie Village HealthCare Center in Jacksonville. Mrs. Niles fell while receiving routing dialysis treatment in April 2007. The nursing home is cited for failing to assess her fall risk and taking precautionary steps to limit the risk of a fall. In addition the suit alleges that the negligent nursing home failed to properly treat and limit the progression of pressure ulcers caused by the fall as well as failure to stop a skin infection the developed on her lower extremities.

The suit further argues that the nursing home staff failed to provide the necessary daily skin treatments or properly treat her wounds, ultimately leading to Mrs. Niles death two months after her initial fall. The plaintiff believes that Prairie Village provided inadequate staffing levels and untrained staff which led to the negligent medical care and unnecessary death.

Several other defendants have been named in the lawsuit which was filed as a violation of three Illinois statutes, including the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

According to the nursing home quality reports filed at Medicare.gov, the Prairie Village HealthCare Center received the lowest possible rating (much below average) in nursing home staffing and quality indicators. For example, while the average Illinois nursing home resident receives an average of 42 minutes of registered nurse care each day, residents at Prairie Village average only 14 minutes of such care. Also, while an average of 11% of long-term residents in Illinois nursing homes ultimately suffer less mobility while at the health care facility; nearly 27% of Prairie Village long-term residents have less mobility following an extended stay at the facility.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have fought similar battles against Illinois nursing homes that repeatedly provide inadequate medical care to residents. The negligence occurs in various forms often resulting, as in this case, from inadequate and untrained nursing home care workers. If you know of any victims of similar abuse, please contact a nursing home attorney immediately to help assess the situation.

Negligent Care Provided at the Champaign County Nursing Home

The Champaign County Nursing Home is under state investigation yet again for an incident involving mistreatment of a nursing home resident at the facility. As the Champaign News-Gazette reports, a resident suffered a laceration requiring 24 stitches when an nursing home aide attempted to move her. All transfers of this particular patient were supposed to have been conducted by at least two aides, so as to avoid injuries like the one sustained. In fact, a sign posted directly on the resident’s door reminded the staff members of this rule.

The incident has prompted an investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

This blatant example of nursing home abuse is just one of several that have plagued the Champaign County Nursing Home recently. Earlier this year the institution was fined nearly $100,000 due to its violation of several Illinois Department of Public Health’s requirements. Those penalties were eventually reduced to around $14,000, but this latest investigation may drive up the penalty even further.

According to Mike Scavotto, a consultant hired to help run the facility two years ago, there has been a recent increase in the number of complaints filed against the nursing home. Mr. Scavotto suggests that each of these complaints appears legitimate. Clearly, an improvement in customer service and elder treatment is needed at the facility to stem this tide of improper andnegligent nursing home care.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are leaders in fighting for the rights of Illinois nursing home residents. We have won several multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for negligent and abusive nursing home treatment. While the Illinois Department of Health works hard to hold nursing homes accountable for their substandard care, it is impossible for a single government agency to stop most of the abuse at these facilities. That is why it is important for private residents to contact nursing home attorneys any time they feel that the rights of a loved one have been violated by nursing home abuse.

New Penalties Proposed for Negligent Nursing Homes

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) proposed new regulations yesterday for civil money penalties for nursing homes that violate CMS participation rules. Much of the money used to run nursing homes and provide care to elderly citizens is provided by CMS.

To ensure that the funds are spent in a fair manner and that adequate care is provided, CMS has guidelines that must be followed before a nursing home will be reimbursed by CMS for the cost of provided care to each resident. Also, CMS has the power to impose penalties on nursing homes that violate the CMS requirements.

The new regulations proposed yesterday were mandated by the landmark healthcare reform law passed last year. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti support any new law that holds failing nursing homes accountable for elder abuse and negligent care that is too often provided to senior residents. Our clients have continually shared stories of substandard care at these facilities, often leading to deadly results. Threatening the money streams to the nursing home facilities is sometimes the only way to ensure that nursing home administrators finally ensure that their employees are properly trained, the facility is secure, and all nursing home laws are followed.

A few of the new regulations proposed yesterday include:

- Allowing a portion of a civil money penalty collected for Medicare violations to be used for the protection and benefit of nursing home residents. Currently, the money is simply collected by the U.S. Treasury and pooled in the general fund.

- After the conducting an informal dispute resolution (IDR), allowing CMS to collect the penalty money, placing the funds in an escrow account until any appeal process is completed. This way negligent nursing homes are not able to delay paying any penalties while they slow down the process with continuing appeals measures.

- Require that all IDR actions not be delayed and occur within 90 days of notice of the CMS imposed penalty.

Click here to read this summary from The Hill with more details on the proposed changes. We will be sure to keep this blog updated on the developments as these proposals become the actual law by which nursing homes must abide.

Repeated Nursing Home Negligence Leads to Multiple Lawsuits

The nursing facility Britthaven of Chapel Hill is embroiled in a series of legal actions after several separate incidents of negligent and abusive care that occurred at the facility reports the News Observer.

A nurse at the facility, Angela Almore will head to court tomorrow in second-degree murder and patient abuse charges following the death of resident Rachel Holliday and the hospitalization of six other residents at the facility. The situation has been dubbed an “Angel of Death” case, as Ms. Almore is charged with giving Ms. Holliday and the six others extreme doses of morphine. None of the patients had been prescribed any morphine at all. The state health regulation department is still investigating the nursing home’s own involvement with those incidents

The unlawful morphine poisonings are just one of several negligent and abusive incidents uncovered at the facility this year. One resident, former medical professor and Nobel Prize nominee Marian Orlowski went to the facility following advancing dementia and need for close monitored care. However, the nursing home staff at Britthaven failed to provide proper supervision (or even a bed with rails), resulting in Mr. Orlowski failing and suffering sever physical injury, including a broken hip.

Earlier, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had fined Britthaven $216, 400 stemming from an incident involving 95-year old resident Mary Lou Barthazon. Both of Ms. Barthazon’s thighs were broken when a nursing assistant dropped her while trying to lift her into bed. The care plan for Mary Lou called for the use of a mechanical lift to perform those movements, but the nursing assistant ignored it.

Even worse, in order to hide her negligence, the nursing home aide failed to report the incident. Ultimately, Mary Lou was forced to sit untreated with two broken thighs for two weeks before her daughter noticed the problem and demanded she be sent to the emergency room. She died at the hospital four days later.

Previously, the nursing home had attempted to get out of a trial on Ms. Barthazon’s lawsuit because of an arbitration clause it inserted into the admission contract. The clause essentially attempts to force anyone with claims against the nursing home to go through an arbitrator (often a costly and unreasonable proceeding) instead of the regular civil lawsuit process. However, the judge in the case declared the contract with that requirement to be unconscionable. An unconscionable contract is one where one side of the deal was unfairly disadvantaged both during the process of signing it and in relation to the terms agreed to by each side of the contract.

Each of these incidents has placed Britthaven of Chapel Hill on a list designating them a “special focus facility” for homes with a pattern of inadequate care. However, it is unclear what specific repercussions, if any, will results from these repeated examples of elder abuse at the facility.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are continually outraged by the nursing homes that repeatedly provided care that leads to painful injury and death for many vulnerable seniors. Our attorneys have been involved in “Angel of Death” cases and many examples of severe injuries caused by negligent care and unsupervised patients. Even one suffering senior is too many. Help stop these forms of elder abuse by reporting any incident caused by negligent and abusive medical care.

Scams Against the Elderly on the Rise

The Washington Post recently discussed a growing problem: the rise of elder financial abuse. Each year more and more seniors Americans are swindled, tricked, and robbed out of the funds they have often spent their lifetimes saving.

A study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute last year discovered that seniors lose at least $2.6 billion a year to scams and that is a conservative estimate. The report also indicated that many seniors are reluctant to let anyone know about these scams out of embarrassment, fear of being sent to a nursing home, and concern about having to testify in court.

Gail Nardi of the Virginia Department of Social Services mentioned that cases of senior financial abuse are skyrocketing. She explains that just last month a caregiver at the Department of Social Services took more than $24,000 from an 89- year old vulnerable elderly resident who had sought care through the state agency.

Financial abuse of the elderly takes many forms. It often involves care workers at nursing homes and others hired specifically to assist the vulnerable seniors. At other times, elderly victims are exploited by their own family members. One high-profile example is the recent case of New York socialite Brooke Astor, whose son was accused of taking $1 million while his mother was suffering from Alzheimers.

Other senior financial scams involve a claimed “handyman” convincing a senior that home repair needs to be done and taking payment for the work without ever actually fixing anything. The unnecessary work typically includes fixing roofs, paving driveways, and trimming trees.

Many states have called on physicians and bank tellers to play a more active role in stopping the abuse. By encouraging those individuals (who most seniors interact with frequently) to report suspicious behavior, many scams may be caught before it is too late.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers encourage everyone to pay close attention to signs of senior financial exploitation among any elderly family and friends. Often the victims of these scams have money saved up to pay for their medical care in their final years, only to have it ripped from them by greedy thieves. It can happen in any circumstance and at any time. The only way to stop the growing problem is increasing awareness and more reporting of potential problems.

Wanted Criminals Found in Illinois Nursing Home

Another Illinois nursing home was randomly checked this week to determine its compliance with state nursing home laws, reports the Peoria Journal Star. However, what inspectors found was five residents wanted for crimes on outstanding warrants when thy investigated the Sharon Health Care Willows facility in Peoria.

This was the 13th unannounced check of Illinois nursing homes under a program started by Attorney General Lisa Madigan last year. In each and every check, authorities discovered that the nursing homes checked were unknowingly and illegally housing individuals wanted for a wide range of crimes.

Nursing homes are required to perform background checks on everyone at the facility, both residents and staff members. As the Attorney General explained, “When we are in the position of putting our grandparents into a nursing home, we want to know they will be safe.”

Elder abuse occurs often when another resident or staff member with a record of violent or harmful actions is allowed the opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable residents at our nursing homes. Ensuring that no violent individuals are living and working with our loved ones in these homes is one of the most basic requirements of any long-term health care facility.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti support these compliance checks by the Attorney Generals’ office. The inspections initially began as a way to check code violations. However, the focus shifted when the inspections revealed that many felons were using the homes to hide from their warrants.

Many of the tragedies that have befallen our clients could have been avoided if only the nursing home administration would have conducted proper checks on negligent staff members and abusive residents. The quality of care at all medical facilities is only as good as the individuals who provide it. If you suspect that the quality at a nearby home has fallen below proper standards, contact a nursing home lawyer today. You could also contact the Attorney General’s tip line if you believe a particular home may be in need of a random compliance check. The tip line number is 312-814-8376.

Illinois Nursing Homes Owners Involved in Illegal Pharmaceutical Sales

A new lawsuit filed in Illinois this week alleges illegal kickbacks in a sale of a Chicago-based pharmaceutical company owned by the operators of Illinois nursing homes, reports the Chicago Tribune. The suit charges pharmaceutical giant Omnicare, Inc. with paying kickbacks in its purchase of Chicago based company Total Pharmacy. Total Pharmacy is owned by Chicago nursing home operators Phillip and Morris Esformes.

The lawsuit was filed by two whistleblowers, Maureen Nehls and Adam Resnik, both former employees and consultants for Total Pharmacy.

Nehls and Resnik described the details of the illegal activity, explaining how Omnicare agreed to pay more money (ultimately $25 million) to buy Total Pharmacy, so long as they also received guaranteed contracts to provide medical drugs to many of the nursing homes owned by the Esformeses. In addition, the Esformeses were allowed to keep an additional $7 million in accounts receivable, a hidden payment to avoid taxes and inflate the actual value of the sale for the Esformeses.

Federal anti-kickback law forbid pharmacies from paying nursing home owners to induce them to buy Medicare and Medicaid funded medicine for residents. The logic behind the law is simple: Nursing home owners should not personally gain at the taxpayers’ expense and nursing home residents should not be pawns in an attempt at personal enrichment for nursing home owners.

However, the Esformeses have shown that making money out of their nursing homes matters more than the care of the residents for whom they are responsible. The claims in this kickback lawsuit are merely the latest in a series of elder abuse and nursing home negligence at the Esformes-run Chicago nursing homes.

Among the Esformeses many Chicago nursing homes are Presidential Pavilion at 80th and Western and Burnham Healthcare in the south suburbs. Several of the 28 homes owed by the father-son team have been subjects of state and federal investigations for providing inadequate treatment. In one of those investigations, the Esformeses instigated a patient-brokering scheme, where residents were brought to local psychiatry hospitals to receive treatment, even when the patient did not have any need for such treatment. In other words, nursing home resident were used as pawns all to allow the nursing home operators to make more money.

These appalling acts committed by nursing home operators highlight the perilous situation of many vulnerable nursing home residents. The only way to ensure that these forms of elder abuse are eliminated is to provide close oversight of all owners and operators of our nursing homes.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have spent years putting the magnifying glass on illegal, inadequate, and improper activity at Chicago nursing homes. If you suspect any such treatment at a facility, please contact our office so we can help put our considerable resources behind the uncovering the abuse. No elderly resident should have to sacrifice their health and well-being because greedy owners want to fill their wallet. Contact our office today.

New Appointment to Lead Nursing Home Reform Efforts

Yesterday, President Obama appointed Dr. Donald Berwick as the new Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is the federal agency that regulates nursing homes and all other facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, one of the nation’s foremost nursing home reform organizations, issued a statement on President Obama’s choice, explaining how they believe Dr. Berwick will handle nursing home law issues.

Many have criticized the President for making a “recess appointment,” essentially meaning that Dr. Berwick will not require Senate approval be officially be given the job. However, the Consumer Voice notes that the CMS position had not been permanently filled since 2006, and that immediate action was needed to ensure that America’s health and long-term care systems were being properly administered.

Specifically, Dr. Berwick will spearhead the process to implement the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Those provisions include expanding access to home and community based services and improving the quality and safety in long-term care facilities. This health care reform law passed in March also requires CMS to provide substantial oversight in nursing home reporting requirements pertaining to ownership, operations, financing, staffing, and quality. Also, nursing homes are now required to perform background checks on all care workers and clearly report all cases of neglect, abuse, and exploitation in nursing homes.

The Consumer Voice further urged Dr. Berwick to take action on other areas of concerns to nursing home residents including the severe understaffing in many homes, quality of care problems, and lax enforcement of state Nursing Home Reform Law.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti hope that Dr. Berwick makes a smooth transition and advocates for the rights of all those receiving long-term medical care. Any step toward limiting elder abuse and nursing home negligence is a step in the right direction.

Nursing Home Negligence Trial Results in $677 Million Verdict

Three weeks ago we posted a story on the closing statements of a high profile trial involving nursing home negligence at several of the homes owned by Skilled HealthCare based out of California. The Contra Costa Times reports that yesterday the jury in the case finally returned a verdict, finding against the nursing home and awarding a staggering $677 million dollars in damages.

The case was a class-action, with the plaintiffs representing an estimated 32,000 residents who were given inadequate nursing treatment by the negligent nursing homes owned by Skilled HealthCare. The case revolved around the number of hours per day of qualified nursing care each resident received. State law requires that 3.2 hours of care be given each day, but records indicate that the nursing homes were falling far below that number for at least six years from 2003 to 2009.

Overall, the jury awarded the maximum amount possible to the aggrieved class of victims, ultimately totaling over $670 million dollars. That figure includes $58 million in damages for violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act. It is clear from the jury’s verdict that they were appalled by the blatant disregard for the law exhibited by administrators at these facilities. As the nursing home abuse attorney commented after the verdict, “This is a really strong statement to Skilled HealthCare that they have to follow the law. They need to know that they are going to be held responsible.”

It may seem shocking that one of the largest nursing home chains in the country like Skilled Healthcare, which operates homes in seven states, would repeatedly violate nursing home laws. However, systematic negligent and law-breaking are all too common occurrences at nursing home facilities. The abuse continues at these homes until victims finally stand up for their rights and seek representation to hold the abusers responsible. Large money-making institutions like nursing home chains will often never make big changes to improve resident care unless they are forced to do so by fierce nursing home care advocates.

That is why our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti encourage you to seek out qualified legal representation if you suspect any mistreatment at a local nursing home. Every day that you delay may mean one more senior suffers abuse at the hands of negligent and inadequate caregivers.

Chicago Nursing Home Resident Drowns in Bathtub

The Chicago Tribune reported last night on the drowning death of a Chicago nursing home resident. Jean Engstrom, a 51 year old mentally ill woman, died in the evening of July 4th at the Warren Park Nursing Pavilion. The facility is suppose to provide care to nearly 100 residents and is located on the northwest part of the city in West Rogers Park, near Damen Avenue and Devon Avenue.

Ms. Engstrom was found in her bathtub shortly before 9pm on Sunday evening, while most of the 4th of July holiday events were still finishing. Staff officials found her in a bathtub with the water running. Police officers called to the scene tried to revive her, but they were unsuccessful. She died after arriving at St. Francis Hospital.

The investigation into Ms. Engstrom’s death in ongoing with homicide and negligence not ruled out as possibilities.

The Medicare.gov Nursing Home Comparison site indicates that the Warren Park Nursing Pavilion was inspected by government officials several times between February 2009 and April 2010 after complaints had been filed against the pavilion. Overall, the inspectors gave the home its lowest ranking (much below average) for failing to meet health requirements and for the quality of its medical staff.

Specifically, the investigators found that the nursing home previously had failed to protect residents from mistreatment, neglect, and theft of personal property. They also revealed that Warren Park Nursing facility staff occassionally failed to provide care that respected each residents' self dignity and personal preference. The inspection concluded with concerns that the facility did not adequately ensure that the nursing home area was free of dangers that cause accidents.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are intimately familiar with the care provided at nearly every nursing facility in the Chicago area. We have worked with dozens of clients winning numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of victims of nursing home negligence and abuse. Deaths like Ms. Engstroms are almost always preventable if proper care, supervision, and oversight is provided at the facility. If you suspect anything similar, be sure to contact a nursing home lawyer in your area.

Illinois Nursing Home Violation: Barry Community Center

The Barry Community Center, a care facility in Southern Illinois, recently received several Type “A” Violations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and fined $35,000. The violations resulted from mismanaged emergency situations at the facility which involved nursing home abuse and neglect. The Center is owned by Alden Village North, a nursing home group based out of Chicago.

Contrary to proper procedure, a resident at the facility was allowed to eat unsupervised for 30-35 minutes. When a care worker finally checked on the resident, they found her to be choking on the food. To compound the error, the nursing home staff members did not provide any quick emergency care (such as back blows) nor did they call 911. Instead they waited over an hour to call her personal physician. When the abused resident was finally brought to the hospital, it was too late. She was unresponsive and in severe respiratory stress, and she died shortly after.

Illinois nursing home investigators declared that Barry Community Center staff had been negligent in allowing the resident to eat alone, failing to give back blows when it was discovered that the resident was choking, and failing to immediately contact 911.

Many residents live in nursing homes specifically because the homes are suppose to provide the quick, expert medical care necessary in life and death emergency situations. But all too often, nursing homes fail to provide the care that residents count on. Failure to properly monitor meal times leading to a choking death is just one of many forms of nursing home negligence.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have experience fighting for victims of negligent nursing home care. Be sure to contact them or any similar attorney if you know of violations similar to the one at Barry Community Center.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. To access the IDPH report on this violation, please click the link.

Investigation Shows Nursing Homes Giving Inadequate Care

An extensive investigation conducted by California Watch has revealed that hundreds of nursing homes have decreased staffing levels, even though they received hundreds of millions of dollars in increased public funding.

The Ventura County Star reported on the investigation which analyzed the effect of a 2004 law which ultimately funneled more than $880 million in increased state and federal funds to nursing homes. However, over 200 nursing homes in the state actually decreased staffing levels, paid lower wages, or decreased at-home caregiver levels.

The 2004 law was intended to allow the state to capture more federal funds for elder care. It created a reimbursement system instead of a flat-fee payment format for nursing homes. It also allowed the facilities to pay a fee that would trigger increased federal matching funds. As a result the overall public funding of nursing homes ballooned in the state to nearly $4 billion.

However, official complaints alleging nursing home negligence and abuse have actually increased significantly since the bill. Amazingly, state officials actually pay for nursing homes to defend against abuse and neglect charges. That means that taxpayers are funding nursing homes which then cut services, and the taxpayers are then charged again to defend the consequences of the negligent acts of those deficient nursing homes. It is a subsidy for mistreating elderly residents.

The California Watch investigation revealed that the facilities which cut service while taking more taxpayer money were likely motivated more by increased profits than providing proper care. The facilities that decreased staffing levels predictably increased their median profits by 35%. However, those increased profits came at a high cost to many neglected nursing home residents.

Covenant Care, for example, received $15 million in increased funding while cutting the amount of caregivers assigned to patients. One of those patients was Charles McGrew. After being admitted to a Covenant Care nursing home, Mr. McGrew eventually developed pressure sores on his tailbone and ankles. One leg ultimately had to be amputated, leading to his death shortly after.

Since McGrew’s death, nursing home levels at Covenant have actually decreased even further, falling below the state mandated levels. Profits at the facility have increased, however, as administrators received bonuses based in part on profit increases each year.

Abuse like the one leading to Mr. McGrew’s death is often attributed to improper care by the lowest paid workers who provide the majority of patient care in nursing homes. It was this lowest-paid group that received by far the fewest wage raises after the 2004 bill. In fact, adjusted for inflation, over a third of those critically important direct patient care workers received wage decreases.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are disheartened but familiar with the story of nursing home negligence and mismanagement uncovered in this investigation. We have waged many battles against negligent care provided by untrained, unsupervised, unskilled, low-paid care workers. Taxpayers deserve to have their money spent appropriately on the care of vulnerable elderly resident. Public funds should not end up in the pocket of high-paid nursing business professionals.

Jury Awards $7 Million in Nursing Home Lawsuit

WKYT News reported yesterday on the conclusion of a nursing home negligence trial. The jury ultimately determined that an aide at the Hillcrest Center was responsible abusing resident Grace Fugate.

Ms. Fugate was 67 in July of 2003 when she first entered the care of healthcare workers at Hillcrest for what was scheduled to be a short stay to recover from knee surgery. Only a month later, Ms. Fugate told a nursing aide that she needed assistance to use the restroom. Shockingly, the aide refused to assist Grace, claiming that she was busy and didn’t have time to help Grace go to the bathroom. The aide told her to get up and go to the bathroom on her own.

Grace eventually attempted to move and reach the restroom herself. Her still mending knee could not handle the strain, however, and she ended up falling. She eventually lost so much blood after the fall that she had to be resuscitated at a local hospital. The fall traumatized the recovering knee even further, leading to its amputation six years later.

Over the course of the trial the jury also heard how the aide who refused to help was uncertified and had a history of poor work habits. Grace’s attorney confessed that he suspected the aide had been angry because she had recently been written up for poor performance, and she took out her anger on Ms. Fugate.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti support Grace’s fight for vindication for the elder abuse she suffered. Elderly residents at nursing home facilities are often in fragile states, meaning that even simple acts of negligence commonly lead to serious harm. Often the negligence involves failing to properly monitor a resident, like a case we settled for $1.5 million involving an aide’s failure to supervise a resident’s smoking, leading to severe burns. However, sometimes the abuse is even more egregious, like in Ms. Fugate’s case, where an untrained nursing home worker actively refuses to provide the care to which for which he or she is being paid.

In either case, nursing home lawyers should be contacted immediately to ensure that the victim is protected and future abuse is limited.

Survey Results Reveal Repeated Nursing Home Neglect

The Gazette, a publication of the Consumer Voice and National Long-Term Ombudsman Resource Center, recently released a newsletter that discussed severe deficiencies in the Kentucky nursing home system.

The article noted that over 200 deficiencies have been found in the state’s nursing home system since the beginning of the year alone. The problems included a wide range of nursing home negligence from lacking certain safeguards to protect against abuse to failing to properly dispose of garbage.

What is especially disheartening is that seven of the nursing homes had seven or more deficiencies. That means that certain homes are continually flaunting the proper standards of care repeatedly, leaving residents open to sever injury, neglect, and abuse. Overall, upwards of 90% of nursing homes in the state were be failing state and federal requirements of care in one capacity or another.

Luckily, the federal Department of Health and Human Services mandates that surveys be taken across at least once every 15 months at nursing home facilities to determine the level of compliance with the law. However, the discouraging results make clear the work that still needs to be done to ensure that these facilities provide the senior residents the care that the law demands.

In Illinois, the situation may be even worse than in Kentucky. While the violations in Kentucky did not reach the level requiring nursing homes to be closed, several Illinois homes were recently slated for closure. Those Illinois nursing homes, including the Evergreen Health Center in Evergreen Park were found to have committed abuses so flagrantly and consistently that the only solution was to ensure that they stopped harming any future residents.

In fact, our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are currently fighting for the rights of a victim of Evergreen Park negligence. We have seen the fatal consequences of nursing home abuse and neglect, and understand that the only solution is consistent vigilance and oversight. If you suspect any improper care at a local nursing home, be sure to contact a nursing home lawyer immediately.

New Nursing Home Laws Seek to Improve Elder Care

The Center for Medicare Advocacy released new information to help explain the nursing home provisions in the recently passed federal legislation known commonly as the “Affordable Care Act.” The Act is actually a collection of two different pieces of legislation, each of which affects nursing home care throughout the country. It is important for anyone with a loved one currently receiving care in one of these facilities to understand the changes to best ensure that the care provided to your elderly friends and family is meeting the legal standards.

Overall, the reforms are focused on three areas: improving transparency of information about nursing homes, better targeting enforcement of the current nursing home laws, and improving staff training.

First, according to the new law, nursing homes are now required to make ownership information available immediately to appropriate government oversight groups. In addition, the Health and Human Services Department must include new information in the “Nursing Home Compare” section of their website to provide better tools for consumers to determine the best place to provide care to their friends and family. Other new transparency requirements include detailed reports of nursing home expenditures, a standardized complaint form, and new staff accountability reports.

Next, the laws make changes to the enforcement of current nursing home regulation laws. For example, a National Independent Monitor Demonstration Project is now required which is intended “to develop, test, and implement independent monitor programs to oversee interstate and large intrastate chains.” Changes to the protocol of nursing homes closure are also made in the new law which will ensure that no new residents is admitted while a facility is scheduled to be closed.

The necessity of these changes in particular is made clear by recent examples of nursing home abuse. Just last month, Illinois officials scheduled several facilities in Illinois to be closed for repeated examples of nursing home negligence.

Finally, the new laws require additional staff training for nurse aides. Specifically, the aides must now have dementia management training and other elder abuse prevention training. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti know all too well the consequences of untrained and unskilled nursing home employees. We have won countless settlements and verdicts against nursing homes whose untrained workers provided inadequate care. From wandering and elopement to medication errors and pressure sores, nurse home employees who are not trained to provide proper care repeatedly commit elder abuse at nursing homes across the country.

Click here to read more about the new laws affecting nursing homes and the care they provide.

Repeated Nursing Home Negligence in Evergreen Park

Recently, our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti filed suit against the Evergreen Health Care Center in Evergreen Park, Illinois. The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the case.

Cordelia Lee was an intelligent, active, former postal worker and homemaker who lived alone for over a decade after her husband’s death. However, after being diagnosed with blood clots, Ms. Lee checked into Evergreen to receive closer care to help in the healing process.

To deal with the blood clots she was diagnosed a powerful anti-coagulant medication, Coumadin, which requires close monitoring. From the beginning Evergreen staff was negligent it is treatment. They failed to provide proper oversight of Ms. Lee’s prescription, missing doses, failing to keep a log charts, and failing to inform her doctor of abnormal test results. It didn’t take long before Ms. Lee began suffering stomach pains from the inadequate care. Ultimately, only a week after arriving at Evergreen, Cornelia died from bleeding in her lower abdominal cavity.

Cornelia is not the only victim of Evergreen’s negligent care to Illinois seniors.

We had previously initiated a lawsuit against the nursing home to fight for a 77 year old victim of abuse at the facility who died because of Evergreen’s failure to monitor and treat pressure sores. Pressure sores are almost always preventable with proper bathing and repositioning of the body, and their development is typically an indication that a resident is receiving inadequate care.

Our Levin & Perconti attorneys are not the only ones who are fighting to protect residents at Evergreen, as Illinois health officials recently moved to revoke the license of the negligent nursing home. State authorities noted even more repeated examples of serious neglect at the facility from the failure of staff to report the worsening of a resident’s pneumonia to their allowing maggots to infect the scalp of a wounded patient. There is clearly a history of severe abuse at Evergreen, and serious steps need to be taken to vindicate past victims and prevent future harm to its elderly residents.

The clear, repeated examples of abuse make it all the more shocking that an Illinois politician actually had an ownership interest in the Evergreen Health Care Center. According to the Tribune, State Senator Heather Steans and her family maintained an interest in the facility, though Sen. Steans divested her interest once the abuses at Evergreen became public. In any event, it surprising that anyone involved in protecting the rights of vulnerable seniors in Illinois would have any connection to the repeated and extreme examples of nursing home neglect at Evergreen.

As our nursing home attorney Steve Levin noted in the Chicago Tribune, “Frankly, it’s shocking that somebody who has been an advocate for nursing home reform has an ownership in a home that has a repeated background of citations.”