Articles Posted in Care Centers Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

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Nursing home lawsuits seem to pit the residents (and their family) against long-term care facility owners, operators, and staff members. Yet, in many of these cases it would be inappropriate to consider the residents in an antagonistic relationship with the staff members. In fact, as elder care advocates have pointed out again and again, when it comes to ensuring proper care, the residents are usually on the same side as the staff members. That is particularly true when it comes to “front-line” care workers–or those who provide help to residents day in and day out. Many of those employees do yeoman’s work with long hours, little pay, poor benefits, and little employer support. On many occasions, it is those employees who are the first to stand up for residents when resources are cut to the bone by owners and operators. In this way, nursing home residents and their families often side with front-line care workers in various disputes with owners and operators.

Sadly, the drive for profits by many long-term care facilities often results in severe cutbacks for the employees who are the lowest rung on the totem pole–but who do the most for residents each day. Often those actions result in labor disputes.

For example, last week, as reported by CBS local, employees at more than 50 Illinois nursing homes–including 12 Chicago nursing homes–conducted an “informational” picketing in front of a local facilities. According to reports the picketing was in response to chronic problems at so many facilities. One employee interviewed for the story explained that, amazingly, her facility continues to face severe shortages of even the most basic supplies, placing resident care and quality of life at risk. For one thing, she noted that things like diapers–or even food!–was sometimes at a bare minimum. On top of that, her facility, like so many around the state, face chronic under staffing problems. There is simply not enough bodies to help residents in the timely way that is necessary. No matter how well-intentioned those care workers, failure to have enough bodies in the hallways is a recipe for nursing home abuse and neglect.

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Yesterday we discussed the new book “Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of the Care” where a doctor argued for a new outlook on dementia care. The physician, who has decades of experience with patients experiencing cognitive disease as they age, argues that instead of focusing solely on the disease itself, the overall patient must be considered.

Admittedly, it is easier to grasp this general principle than it is to understand exactly what that means in terms of caregiving at nursing home and other assisted living facilities. Perhaps most obviously, the book is a call for less dependence on medications to control the symptoms of dementia. Instead, more individualized care plan need to be crafted which take the unique challenges of a resident with dementia into account.

Unique Nighttime Programs

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What happens when a nursing home is cited by state or federal regulators for quality of care problems? Most assume that the regulators will ensure that that negligent facility will be forced to improve or face closure. And in theory that is how the regulators are set to work. While the specific procedure depends on the state in question, most regulators will conduct investigations into practices and protocols at a nursing home during routine inspections or following a particular incident. Following those inspections, the facility may face financial penalties and is often forced to make changes and show improvement. Regulators will often conduct follow-up visits to ensure changes have actually been made.

In some cases, the facility may have committed so many egregious offenses or continually fail to improve, that more drastic actions are taken. This may result in the facility losing its ability to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs (a death knell for many facilities which cannot financially survive otherwise). Alternatively, a state may deny the facility the ability to receive the proper licensing to legally operate. In those instances, the facility may be closed.

For example, SF Gate reported last week on a nursing home that is slated to close following the end of a two year legal battle with state and federal regulatory officials.

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The Russell Sage Foundation recently released a free new e-book that takes a look at the long-term care system in the United States. The authors examine both the current state of this care (including at nursing homes) as well as the likely future needs. Considering the aging of the nation, the importance of these issues will undoubtedly only grow. Lawyers, senior care advocates, friends, and family members will all need to completely re-think many of these issues if we want to seriously address the problem down the road.

The Importance of Quality Long-Term Care Workers

One chapter of the new book focuses on the critical role played by the caregivers who provide the support that seniors need. This includes direct care workers at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and at-home service providers. At the end of the day, concerns about neglect or mistreatment begins with an examination of the total number (and quality) of direct care workers. These are the individuals who perform the actual tasks, helping with nutrition,grooming, mobility, and more.

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According to the Chicago Tribune, Somerset Place in Chicago will officially close on Friday, and the state must transfer Somerset’s remaining residents. The closure comes after Medicaid funding was cut off and the Illinois Department of Public Health revoked Somerset’s funding after inspections revealed rampant nursing home abuse and neglect. Somerset Place nursing home has received attention in the media due to an investigation by the Tribune into alleged abuse and neglect at the nursing home. The population at Somerset Place is entirely made up of residents suffering from mental illnesses.

Eric Rothner owns a number of nursing homes throughout Illinois, including the management company Care Centers, Inc. Care Centers declared bankruptcy recently, but was managing Somerset up until bankruptcy was declared. Care Centers, Inc. is the subject of a number of nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits, however it is questionable whether the victims will ever see compensation. The company still owes $400,000 to a former employee after a jury found that Care Centers denied her leave benefits.

Despite this debt, the Tribune reports that Rothner received payments of $900,000 from Care Centers, Inc. in the year before the management company filed for bankruptcy. A judge called this a “deliberate attempt to conceal and divert assets to avoid paying the judgment.”

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A Merrillville nursing home with a history of safety problems has avoided a likely closing by finding a buyer. The state health department had issued an emergency order requiring the Northlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to hire a state-approved nursing home administrator in order to monitor patient care. The nursing home is on its third and final probationary license and would not win a permanent license when that probationary experience expires. The nursing home had previously been owned by Care Center, Inc. This is a for-profit company based in Evanston, Illinois and owned by operator Eric Rothner. Many of the nursing homes owned by Rothner have suffered patient safety problems and are being investigated by Illinois authorities. The poor care given to the elderly at nursing homes owned by Care Center, Inc. has been a topic of past Chicago nursing home negligence blog posts. Additionally, the nursing home abuse attorneys of Levin & Perconti have filed nursing home lawsuits against many of their nursing homes. To read more about the Care Center nursing homes, please click the link.

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Penny Whitlock, a former nurse and director of nursing at the Illinois nursing home, Woodstock Residence, now called Crossroads Care Center of Woodstock, requested that three charges against her related to nursing home abuse and neglect be thrown out. The charges allege that she neglected three nursing home residents by failing to blow the whistle on the mistreatment of another patient. Whitlock filed a motion asking the judge to throw out three charges for neglecting long-term care facility residents, claiming she cannot be charged for neglect of patients other than the one who she allegedly knew was being mistreated. In total, Whitlock is charged with five counts of criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident and two counts of obstructing justice. Additionally, former Woodstock Residence nurse Marty Himebaugh was charged with, and pleaded not guilty to, four counts of criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident, one count of obtaining morphine by fraud, and one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. At the heart of the issue is whether Whitlock failed to take action after receiving complaints from other staff members alleging that Himebaugh was overmedicating nursing home patients with morphine and whether Whitlock urged Himebaugh to continue being an “Angel of Death.” The charges touch on nursing home abuse , nursing home neglect, medication errors, and physical or chemical restraints.

In a related suit, Levin and Perconti has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Woodstock Residence, Whitlock, and Himebaugh.

Read more here.

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The Centers Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home Compare website has added a new section that allows viewers to see information on nursing homes and identify homes that have drawn increased federal scrutiny for complaints and other forms of nursing home abuse and neglect. The website includes a listing of Special Focus Facilities which are nursing homes that receive increased federal inspection as a result of past poor performance. Notably, five Illinois nursing homes made the list. Embassy Health Care Center in Wilmington, IL and Harrisburg Care Center of Harrisburg, IL are both on the “not improved” list. Facilities that have shown improvement include Alden Park Strathmoor in Rockford, Berkshire Nursing & Rehab in Forest Park, and International Village in Chicago.

See here for the report and view the website here.

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Care Centers, LLC is a multi-state corporation operating over 20 nursing homes in the state of Illinois. Because Care Centers is the operator of these nursing homes, you may not recognize the home as a Care Centers home. We have provided a list of homes operated by Care Centers homes listed below. If you have a complaint against any of these homes, you should contact the Illinois Department of Public Health at 1-800-252-4343 and consult a lawyer.

Care Center Homes in Illinois

Applewood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Matteson, IL Beecher Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Beecher, IL Briar Place, Ltd. – Indian Head Park, IL Center Home – Chicago, IL Chateau Village Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Willowbrook, IL Concord Extended Care – Oaklawn, IL Grasmere Place, LLC – Chicago, IL Imperial of Hazel Crest, Inc. – Hazel Crest, IL International Village Nursing & Rehabilitation Residence – Chicago, IL Lakewood Center – Plainfield, IL Lemont Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Lemont, IL Mercy Health Care & Rehabilitation Center – Homewood, IL Prairie Manor Health Care – Chicago Heights, IL Rainbow Beach Nursing Center – Chicago, IL Ridgeland Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Palos Heights, IL Sheridan Shores Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Inc. – Chicago, IL Snow Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Lisle, IL Somerset Place, LLC – Chicago, IL South Shore Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Chicago, IL Tri-State Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Inc. – Lansing, IL Washington Heights Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC – Chicago, IL Westshire Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – Cicero, IL Wheaton Care Center, Ltd. – Wheaton, IL

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Levin & Perconti attorney Susan L. Novosad filed a complaint on behalf of the son of a nursing home resident against Applewood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Lexington Health Care Center of Orland Park, Illinois. The woman, who was at a known risk for falls, was allegedly undersupervised and neglected by nursing home staff and eventually fell at the home sustaining serious injuries that ultimately led to her death.