Articles Posted in Chicago Nursing Homes

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The Elder Justice Coalition is reacting to a July 7th New York Times article that outlined just how extensively nursing homes have hidden low staffing numbers. The advocacy group is calling for an immediate congressional review of staffing practices within nursing homes.


Actual Payroll Data Reveals Staffing Crisis

The article, investigated and published in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, was based off a review of payroll hours submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The actual hours made news not only because they show a serious crisis in terms of resident to staff ratios, but also because up until recently, nursing homes had supplied their own staffing data to CMS. With the new payroll-based submission process, nursing homes have no ability to fudge numbers.

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Hidden VA Nursing Home Care Data Published

According to USA Today and The Boston Globe, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been tracking and withholding data on the quality of care at VA nursing homes for years. Because of this alleged fail, resident veterans and their families may not see the bigger picture regarding the quality of care services provided or performed. Families may also be withheld vital health care information to assist in making support decisions. On June 25, 2018, the national news outlets published the ‘hidden’ information from 133 VA nursing homes using reports obtained from internal DVA documents. The review concluded that for the 46,000 veteran residents across the U.S., more than two-thirds of their VA nursing homes were “more likely to have issues related to serious bedsores and residents who will suffer serious pain, than their counterparts in private nursing homes across the country.”

Unlike the VA, private nursing homes are required to submit timely reports on the care they provide to measure quality, inspection issues and staffing. That data is then publicly posted on a federal website for families to use when researching a facility for their loved one.

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nursing home violations

New Report Shows Serious Care Violations and Doubled Fines For 56 Illinois Nursing Homes

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators. The most recent report, dating January 2018 thru March 2018, highlights more than 50 Illinois facilities determined to be lacking in patient care abilities related to the Nursing Home Care Act, a statute that provides nursing home residents and their families with the assurance that proper and safe care will be received.

Some violations heightened with a serious high-risk designation, and all homes received fines of no less than $1,000 while others reached more than $50,000 fines for issues that caused actual harm or immediate jeopardy to residents. Several problems were related to infected bedsores, medication mix-ups, poor nutrition, and abuse and neglect of patients caused by lack of support or inexperienced, overburdened staff. These violations may result in an official recommendation for decertification to the Department of Healthcare and Family Service, or the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Facilities included in this report are:

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national health disparity month

April Is National Health Disparities Month

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates nearly two-thirds of individuals who rely on federal and state funding to support their healthcare and long-term care services have multiple chronic conditions. Most of these conditions impact specific racial and ethnic minority communities who have disproportionately been supported with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment needed to thrive. As April marks an opportunity to call attention to these issues under National Health Disparities Month, it’s an important time to start discussion about the significant problems we have in the United States and right here in Illinois, in relation to at-risk populations who receive Medicare or Medical Assistance to treat chronic diseases. These groups are currently battling greater morbidity, mortality, and disability rates as a result of their long-term care coverage.

According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare and Medical Assistance (Illinois’ name for Medicaid) populations that experience disproportionately high burdens of disease are provided worse quality of care, and barriers to accessing long-term care than others. CMS officials say, “these populations include racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, persons with disabilities, as well as individuals living in rural areas.”

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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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A November opinion piece from Crain’s Chicago Business highlights a common practice among nursing homes: Placing elderly residents in the same facility as those with psychiatric disorders and felony convictions. This practice, while not new, has recently come to light after Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chicago was fined by the Illinois Department of Public Health after five residents overdosed on heroin in just one month.

A Common but Inexcusable Occurrence

Every year, over 2,000 cases of resident-to-resident abuse are alleged in the U.S. alone.

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Nursing homes are supposed to provide a safe and healthy environment for our elderly loved ones. Sometimes that is not the case. In fact, hundreds of nursing home residents are injured every year because of neglect or abuse. It is difficult to know that our parent was harmed because of neglect at the very place that was believed to be protecting them. A recent lawsuit filed in Cook County brings to light the problem of nursing home neglect. The lawsuit claims that a man was seriously injured and died because of negligence at Southpoint Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The lawsuit was brought by the man’s estate on behalf of the man’s sister.

Nursing Home Fall Led to Death

Falls can cause serious injuries, especially to the elderly. According to the CDC, Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, 1,800 nursing home residents die each year because of a fall. The man in this case was, according to the lawsuit, not adequately supervised or assisted, causing him to fall. Further, he was not properly assessed and no medical treatment was rendered. The next day he complained of pain and was finally transported to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a fractured hip which required surgery. According to the lawsuit, the man’s health declined following the surgery and he later died.
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A man has filed a lawsuit claiming negligence in the death of his wife at a Cook County nursing home. According to the lawsuit, the woman developed pressure ulcers along with extreme weight loss while living at The Villa at Evergreen Park, also known as the Evergreen Living & Rehab Center. The woman suffered both mental and physical deterioration as a result of the neglect and died in September 2013. The suit claims that the negligence contributed to her death.

Malnutrition is Negligence
Very often, malnutrition that occurs while a resident of a nursing home is preventable and may be considered negligent care or elder abuse. Elderly patients and those who are recovering from illness could be at a higher risk for malnutrition. However, once a patient is receiving adequate nutrition their health can quickly go downhill. Malnutrition may occur in the elderly for a number of different reasons. For example, the patient may be taking medication that could cause a decrease in appetite. Pain and illness may make someone less hungry, and dental problems may make eating difficult or painful. Regardless of the reason, a patient’s dietary intake must be monitored and adjusted accordingly.
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An arbitration agreement is an incredibly common provision contained in all kinds of contracts related to business, employment, and so much more. States across the continent honor arbitration agreements in some way. Such agreements manifest a compact between parties to a contract that if there is a dispute relating to the terms of the contract in any way, and one party seeks to litigate the matter with the other or others, that case will be arbitrated rather than brought in court. Litigation in general can be an incredibly time-consuming event and even more so can be extremely costly.

While arbitration itself incurs costs, it will typically be less expensive than an actual court trial. Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution, which can also include negotiation, mediation, and others. It involves evidence and testimony as to the incident that occurred such as physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, or other neglect similar to a trial, but carries its own distinct procedural rules and tends to be more streamlined in avoiding the often stalled calendar of a courthouse. The decision of an arbitrator or an arbitration panel is typically binding on the parties. There has been precedent for courts to invalidate the arbitration agreement provision of a contract, namely where it is against public policy or deemed unconscionable (or in essence, both).
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Elder abuse is a growing problem, and may only worsen as America’s baby boomer population ages. One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial exploitation.

Elder financial exploitation is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets. Some examples involve deception, such as forgery and theft. Others are the product of coercion, such as forcing an older person to sign a document that is financial in nature (e.g. wills, contracts).

How to Spot Financial Exploitation