Articles Posted in Illinois Nursing Homes

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The story is one of the most tragic our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys have heard in years. A series of horrifying acts of neglect on behalf of Aperion Care Moline resulted in the August strangulation death of a male resident. Multiple distress calls were made by the man’s roommate when he realized the now-deceased was entangled in the straps of his nightgown after they had become wrapped around the foot of his bed. It took nearly 20 minutes before a CNA finally arrived. Upon arrival, the CNA noticed the man had turned blue and was not breathing. Instead of offering immediate care to the strangled victim, Aperion Care Moline nursing staff wasted precious time attempting to figure out if the victim had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. He did not. According to an Illinois Department of Health investigation, the CNA rolled the man on his side and allegedly did not perform CPR because he was vomiting. By the time emergency medical personnel arrived, the patient was gone.

Upon learning of the incident this morning, Levin & Perconti spoke about the Aperion Care Moline strangulation death with a national CPR expert who teaches CPR to physicians, nurses, CNAs and laypeople across the country. Current CPR teaching indicates that in the event of vomiting, you must turn a patient’s head to clear their airway and once clear, begin CPR if the patient is not breathing. Vomiting is NOT cause to rule out CPR. It has also been reported that not all Aperion Care Moline CNAs were trained in CPR and that the facility did not have a fully stocked crash cart, missing both portable suction equipment and supplies needed to give an IV.

Levin & Perconti: Top Illinois Attorneys for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

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A former nurse at Christian Living Communities and Hearthstone Communities in Woodstock, IL is suing for her job back. The nurse, Juana Walsh, alleges that the nursing home fired her after she acted as a whistleblower by reporting resident abuse to management and the family of the victim. In November 2016, Ms. Walsh went to conduct a routine check on a male resident. The resident was upset and told Ms. Walsh that a male nursing assistant yelled at him and had been physically aggressive while adjusting his pillow. Ms. Walsh reported the incident to her supervisor and the director of human resources for the facility. A social worker was sent to speak with the victim and later reported that he was just confused. Days later, Ms. Walsh gave a written summary of the incident to the victim’s brother. As a result, she was fired and told that she jeopardized the reputation of the facility. She is asking for her job back and for income lost as a result of her termination.

Illinois Whistleblower Act & Illinois Nursing Home Care Act

It is surprising how often we hear stories of nursing home employees being terminated for reporting nursing home abuse and neglect. Legally, nurses, CNAs, and other nursing home employees have protection under the law for reporting abuse to their superiors or to authorities. Firing someone for reporting abuse is referred to as retaliation and is punishable under the Illinois Whistleblower Act and the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Both laws forbid employers from doing anything that punishes an employee for coming forward with proof or suspicions of abuse or neglect and gives the employee the right to pursue civil action that may include obtaining their former job, backpay, and payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and associated legal costs.

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A Quincy, Illinois nursing home has lost 13 veterans since 2015 from Legionnaires’ Disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by a waterborne bacterium called legionella pneumophila, commonly referred to as just legionella. The same nursing home is also responsible for at least 60 other cases of the disease. The Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy is now being sued by the families of 11 of the 13 deceased veterans. In the lawsuit, the families accuse the facility of negligence for failing to adequately monitor the water supply and failure to provide a timely diagnosis of their loved ones, therefore delaying treatment with antibiotics known to cure Legionnaires’ Disease.

The Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy has had at least one case of Legionnaires’ Disease every year since 2014. 12 Legionnaires’-related deaths occurred in 2015 and the latest death was just this past fall. 3 of the 60 reported cases of illness also occurred this fall.

Senator Durbin Calls for Closure of Illinois Veterans Home

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An Orland Park widow is suing Spring Creek Nursing and Rehab Center in Joliet over their alleged negligence that led to the death of her husband in April of this year. Dianne Casper, the widow of Edward Casper, said he was just 75 when he entered the facility after having hip surgery. According to the lawsuit, Edward Casper’s record at Spring Creek documented that he was suffering from dementia, ‘increased cognitive impairment,’ as well as at risk for falls.

Excessive Number of Falls Within Two Months

The lawsuit alleges that from his admission date on January 31, 2017 to his death in April, he fell 28 times at the facility. His final fall in early March caused him to fracture his other hip, which resulted in an immediate hospital transfer and surgery. He died one month after that fall.

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An audit by the Inspector General’s Office of Health and Human Services has found that Illinois has the highest number of nursing home neglect, sexual abuse and physical abuse incidents. The report analyzed 2015-2016 emergency room records from hospitals in 33 states and found that among nursing home residents admitted as patients, 134 of them had injuries consistent with physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Even more alarming is that in nearly 40% of these cases, the incidents were not reported to local authorities, even though a more than 5 year old federal law mandates immediate reporting of injuries consistent with elder abuse.

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin quotes the Inspector General’s report as concluding that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “has inadequate procedures to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries residing in (nursing homes) are identified and reported.” If Medicare is found guilty of not reporting a known case of nursing home abuse or neglect, federal law allows for a fine of up to $300,000. Despite this deterrent, Medicare has still allowed a shocking number of cases to go unreported to authorities.

Although a statement by CMS says that they are committed to protecting the elderly and investigating all incidents, nursing homes are still able to avoid punishment over allegations of abuse and neglect by falsification of records, intimidation and scare tactics to deter employees from becoming whistleblowers, and saying they’ve removed employees found guilty of infractions. Until there are harsher penalties passed down by CMS onto nursing homes for failure to report these incidents, the cycle is destined to continue.

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Every month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) update their list of nursing homes that have proven to be in dire need of improvement to avoid patient safety events and to hang on to funding from Medicare and Medicaid. The nursing homes, referred to as Special Focus Facilities (SFFs), have all been found to have higher than average numbers of safety violations or deficiencies, including actions that have the ability to cause immediate harm or death to residents. Facilities are only able to graduate from the SFF list by having a clean record during two consecutive inspection visits by CMS.

‘Graduation’ from SFF Not the Same Thing as Giving Better Care

In a report by Kaiser Health News, over half of the 528 facilities that graduated from the SFF list before 2014 have gone on to seriously harm and even kill patients. The report says that the same facilities still have nurse staffing levels at an average of 12% lower than typical resident to nurse ratios that many other nursing homes maintain, a significant difference in an industry where ratios are already at shockingly low levels.

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Michael Morris was just 43 years old when he died from complications that arose from infected tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes, as well as multiple pressure ulcers. He was a resident of Salem Village Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Joliet, Illinois for just over a year at the time of his death last September.

In a lawsuit filed in Will County, the administrator of his estate alleges that the facility is directly responsible for his death by failing to provide the adequate care required for a resident in Mr. Morris’ condition.

How do Pressure Ulcers Develop?

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The family of a woman who died after suffering from malnourishment, dehydration and a urinary tract infection (UTI) is suing Alton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Alton, Illinois. The lawsuit alleges that before her death in June 2015, Judith Bates was visibly sick and was not sent to a hospital for treatment, despite lowered oxygen saturation, an abnormal heart rate, breathing difficulties, lethargy, low blood pressure, and excessive sweating. She had also lost 42 pounds in less than 6 weeks. By the time she was tested for a UTI on June 24, 2015, Ms. Bates’ condition had deteriorated and she died the next day.

For-Profit Nursing Home Rated Much Below Average

Alton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is a privately-owned, for-profit nursing home located in the southern Illinois town of Alton. The nursing home is owned by Integrity Healthcare of Alton and according to Nursing Home Compare, the rating system developed and maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the home is rated 1 out of 5 stars. A one star rating is considered much below average. The facility received one star for its health inspection, one star for its staffing practices, and two stars (below average) for quality measures.

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Cahokia Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Cahokia, IL, is yet again defending themselves against a lawsuit filed by the family of a resident. According to the lawsuit, Pauline Purifoy, 86, died in April 2015 from multiorgan failure and septic shock. In the days leading up to her death, Ms. Purifoy was suffering from a painfully severe urinary tract infection that was left untreated. As the pain progressed, Cahokia Nursing & Rehab did not notify Ms. Purifoy’s doctor, instead choosing to treat her on their own. When their efforts didn’t work and Ms. Purifoy was becoming physically and vocally agitated, they resorted to lorazepam, a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. The Illinois Department of Public Health made a visit to Cahokia and saw Ms. Purifoy covered in her own urine, feces, and vomit and forced the facility to contact her physician. The physician ordered her to be transferred to a local hospital, during which time she died in the emergency room.

Cahokia Nursing and Rehabilitation on Federal Watch List

Just this past January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released their latest list of Specialty Focus Facilities, those nursing homes that are considered severely deficient and in danger of losing federal funding. We analyzed the list and found 3 Illinois facilities named, one of which was Cahokia Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Shockingly, Cahokia Nursing & Rehab had just been upgraded to the ‘shown improvement’ category of Special Focus Facilities after a December 2016 visit by CMS.

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Long Term Community Care Coalition (LTCCC) just released its list of over 6,000 U.S. nursing homes with what they’ve termed ‘chronic deficiencies.’ LTCCC considers chronic deficiencies any violation of the same Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulatory standard 3 or more times within 3 years. LTCCC used Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ own Nursing Home Compare database to analyze the infractions.

About LTCCC & Rankings

LTCCC is a non-profit advocacy group that describes itself as ‘dedicated to improving quality of care, quality of life and dignity for elderly and disabled people in nursing homes, assisted living and other residential settings.’ Along with the list of facilities with chronic health deficiencies, LTCCC has also included a spreadsheet of CMS’s star ratings for all the nursing homes found to be deficient. CMS uses a 5 star rating system to give those considering nursing homes an easy way to compare the overall quality of one facility vs. another and uses 5 as the highest indicator of quality and 1 as the lowest.