Many in the Southern Illinois Belleville community were put on alert last week as a resident at the Midwest Rehabilitation and Respiratory Care Center went missing from the facility. According to a report in the Belleville News-Democrat, a 58-year old community member who suffered from a mental illness left the home unexpectedly last Tuesday. The man apparently suffers from schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers understand the dangers that can befall these vulnerable residents when they are not properly supervised and allowed to exit the facility. Many residents are put under the care of those at these facilities specifically because they are likely to harm themselves when allowed to wander outside alone.
In this case, the resident wandered out of the home about quarter before seven in the morning. Upon noticing that he was gone, facility employees called local authorities who began a search for the man. Fortunately, about three hours after he was first reported missing, the resident was found at a local truck stop. He was apparently unharmed and was returned to the health and rehabilitation center.
However, those on the look-out for Illinois nursing home neglect and abuse may be right to wonder if the man will be as safe as possible after he returns to the home. There remain many indications that the facility has chronic care problems. For one thing, less than two months ago another resident was allowed to wander outside of the facility. Unfortunately, in that case, the results were far less positive. In January a 77-year old man was not properly supervised and wandered out of the facility. A search ensued, but he would not be found for two days. Eventually he was located in a heavily wooded area which surrounds the facility. Considering that the incident occurred in January, the weather was severe and the resident died from his exposure to the elements.
Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers know that as a result of that deadly incident, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommended that the facility be sanctioned. Eight different citations were issued by the public agency for inadequate care which led to the wandering death. In the end the IDPH recommended that the home be hit with a $50,500 fine by federal regulators for failure to abide by applicable law which seeks to keep these residents safe.
Unfortunately, state and federal citations and fines often come too little too late to have much effect on ensuring these negligent facilities take full responsibility for the poor conduct which leads to resident harm. The civil justice system plays a crucial role in filling in the gaps, providing redress and acting as an important spur to ensure real changes are made at these chronically negligent homes. For example, the daughters of the man who died after wandering away recently filed an Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit. The suit alleges that the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was violated which contributed to the man’s death. Further allegations suggest that the facility did not act properly to ensure the man was not left alone, particularly considering he had known elopement tendencies.
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