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James Zbonski Was One of 15 To Die at Facility With Multiple Past Infection Control Issues

CHICAGO, June 3, 2020 – Representatives of James Zbonski filed suit today against the Bridgeview Health Care Center following the 84-year-old man’s tragic death from COVID-19.

Family of Westchester Nursing Home COVID-19 Victim Files Suit
Rita Saunders Is One of 12 Dead at Facility With History of Neglect

CHICAGO, June 2, 2020 – Attorneys today filed suit on behalf of the family of 64-year-old Rita Saunders, who died in March following exposure to the novel coronavirus at the Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center.

The Westchester center was the site of an early and sustained outbreak, with 47 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported at the 120-bed facility, including 12 deaths.

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More Than 100 Illinois Nursing Homes Named in Final Violators Report of 2019

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has released its final and Fourth Quarter Report of Nursing Home Violators for 2019 highlighting nursing homes that failed to comply with mandatory state regulations. This report dates October 2019 through December 2019. It highlights 111 Illinois facilities, an increase from 71 in the third quarter. The facilities were cited for various violations of 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.

Illinois facilities with violations in quarter four of 2019 include:

nursing home abuse and neglect

CMS Will Publicly Post All Names of Most Concerning Care Facilities

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is reacting to the highly publicized release of U.S. Senators Bob Casey’s (D-PA) and Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) report titled, Families’ and Residents’ Rights to Know: Uncovering Poor Care in America’s Nursing Homes, by announcing it will soon disclose all of the names of care facility candidates in the agency’s Special Focus Facility (SFF) program. SFFs have a “persistent record of poor care” and were previously not available for the public to review. Some lawmakers and resident advocates even called the list a “scary secret” kept from the public to protect nursing home owners and their reputations.

The Pennsylvania lawmakers list included only 400+ facilities, 22 of which are located throughout Illinois, but there are almost 3,000 nursing homes that have a one-star rating on their health inspections, the worst ranking possible. With only 88 SFF program slots funded that likely leaves so many additional poor performing candidates for the program to publicly acknowledge. 

nursing home ombudsman program

Illinois Ombudsmen May Be a Neglected Nursing Home Resident’s Only Lifeline

When a resident does not have family or friends who can visit them on a regular basis, Regional Ombudsmen or Ombudsman Volunteers may be the only persons available to help identify a problem, report care concerns, and act as a voice for those who have been neglected, forgotten, or abused. The individuals working through the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program are also crucial in protecting the rights of residents who are disabled and may have a hard time advocating for themselves. Ombudsmen oversee assigned regions across the state and stay focused on these six main goals.

  1. Advocating to improve the quality of care and quality of life for residents of long-term care facilities in Illinois.

Effective July 29, 2010, the Illinois General Assembly amended the Nursing Home Care Act to include what it termed “whistleblower protection”. 210 ILCS 45/3-810 (West 2010). Section 3-810 specifically provides a private right of action for nursing home employees who are retaliated against for reporting or threatening to report to a supervisor or a public body any action or incidents they believe to be a violation of the law, a rule, or a regulation regarding care and treatment of nursing home residents. Prior to this amendment, Illinois Courts did not recognize a private right of action for nursing home employees who reported violations and were retaliated against. In Young v. Alden Gardens of Waterford, Bethany Young, RN filed suit alleging, in part, that she was retaliated against for refusing to falsify medical records on November 9, 2009. The trial court dismissed her claim under Section 3-810 based on the fact that the Nursing Home Care Act did not provide a private right of action for retaliatory discharge at the time the conduct occurred. The court noted that because the amendment affected a substantive change in the law, it could not be applied retroactively to Young’s claim. Young v. Alden Gardens of Waterford, LLC, 2015 IL App (1st) 131887 ¶ 11.
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A new elder neglect lawsuit was filed recently in Cook County alleging mistreatment by home health caregivers. The complaint, filed last week, can be viewed online in full.

Several different Chicago home health companies and facilities are named in the complaint, which seeks to hold the entities accountable for the actions of their employees in the scope of their employment.

The plaintiff in the case is a man filing suit on behalf of his now-deceased father. The father was receiving care at his home. However, in mid-November of 2011, the senior was brought to a local hospital for a range of problems, including several bed sores, an infection, diabetes problems, and sepsis. His lower leg was amputated to stave off the infection, but the senior died a few days later as a result of complications.

The federal Nursing Home Reform Act covers many of the rights that nursing home residents are guaranteed. These rights are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 42- Public Health Law, Part 483.

These rights include:

The right to choose a doctor The right to receive advance information about treatment The right to be free from all kinds of nursing home abuse The right to obtain clinical records upon request The right to have notice before a room or roommate change happens The right of residents to manage their personal finances.

It is a sad tale that plays out in our community every day. Local resident Nancy Rivera’s mother began suffering cognitive challenges. Like so many others, the senior, Carmen Marrero, suffered from Alzheimer’s, and her condition slowly deteriorated. About three months ago her health was in such a place that she needed around-the-clock care. It was more than Rivera could provide on her own.

To ensure her mother’s safety, the adult daughter moved her parent in a facility she assumed would provide the close care needed–the Grove at the Lake Living & Rehabilitation Center in Zion.

Sadly, in just that very short time, evidence suggests that Ms. Marerro did not receive anywhere near the care she needed. As discussed in a recent Sun Times report, since moving into the facility, Marrero needed to be taken to a local hospital for medical care at least twice.

A nationwide nursing home resident advocacy group, “Families for Better Care,” recently released a comprehensive “Nursing Home Report Card.” The study culls 2013 data in at least eight different criteria to grade each individual state on the quality of nursing home care provided. The grade is an easy-to-understand gauge of the current state of long-term care in each region.

So how did Illinois stack up in this effort? Not good. Nursing home caregivers in Illinois received the lowest grade possible, an F. Overall, the state was in the bottom ten nationwide. Those of us who work on IL nursing home neglect cases fully appreciate the scope of mistreatment faced by so many seniors. But it is still discouraging to see even more confirmation of the inadequate services provided to some of our most vulnerable community members.

Poor Illinois Nursing Home Care

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