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Lake County Nursing Home—Winchester House—May Be Privatized

Lake County Board members engaged in often barbed debate this week before voting on whether or not to move ahead with plans to privatize the Winchester House nursing home.

The Daily Herald reported on the developments in the situation. In a party-line 13-10 vote, the Board agreed on Friday to seek bids from private companies to run the long-term care facility. For the last several decades the Libertyville nursing home has been run by the county, but many community members believe that the public body is no longer the best group to operate the home.

Many other raised concerns that this was an inappropriate way for the country to conduct financial management. They questioned the effect the change would have on the unionized workers at the home as well as the potential decrease in the quality of care provided to residents.

We have often discussed the potential pitfalls that exist in private nursing homes when there is often a conflict between the quality of care provided and the profit-incentive of those who run the home. However, there is no guarantee that publicly run facilities will provide superior care. It all comes down to the specific individuals who manage the nursing home and the commitment they make to limiting the prevalence of Illinois nursing home abuse.

For example, Winchester House has had its share of problematic care in the past, even while being publically run. A few years ago an Illinois nursing home abuse attorney from our firm, Susan Novosad, represented the family of a former resident of the Winchester House. The victim in that case was a known fall risk who was never properly monitored by staff members at the home. As a result, she fell on six different occasions, suffering a brain injury, hip fracture, and displaced elbow. She died several days after her last fall from complications of those injuries. That Illinois nursing home lawsuit was eventually settled by our attorneys for $1 million-a record amount in Lake County.

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