Surprise inspections are one method state officials use to monitor the quality of care provided at nursing homes in Illinois. By showing up unannounced, these visits allow regulators to see exactly how these facilities are kept and how residents are treated on normal days. This year the Illinois Attorney General’s office has conducted many of these investigations in a project known as “Operation Guardian.” Thus far there have been 17 raids, resulting in 20 arrests of residents with outstanding warrants.
However, yesterday the Chicago Tribune reported on a possibility that the latest facility to be raided was tipped-off about the nursing home investigation.
On July 22 investigators conducted what was supposed to be a surprise sweep on Grasmere Place-a nursing home in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Upon arriving at the facility, however, the administrator was waiting for the state officials. She asked them, “What took you so long?”
Conveniently, on that day the facility was bustling with painters and carpenters improving the facility. But about three weeks later, in a second surprise visit, the nursing home was nowhere near as clean and organized as in the first raid. One official taking part in both investigations explained, “What we experienced was literally night and day.”
Grasmere had a history of troubling incidents-several residents have been convicted of felony drug charges, theft, and other crimes while at the facility.
Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti remain extremely concerned about the possible breach of the surprise visit inspections. The concern about the possible tip-off cannot be overstated. These unannounced visits remain the hallmark of safety enforcement at these facilities.
But if the surprise element is compromised, than the effectiveness of the checks is entirely sacrificed. Individuals could be treated poorly each day of the year, and so long as the facility appears in good order on the one inspection day, nothing would be done about it. Nursing home abuse must be stamped out wherever it is found. To help identified where it occurs, state officials must ensure that these inspections remain unannounced so that they are able to get an accurate gauge of the day-to-day conditions under which these vulnerable residents live.