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southern illinois nursing homes covid-19

Nursing Home Outbreak at Stearns Facility Points to Sick Care Workers

An Illinois nursing home in Madison County is under investigation related to a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed 12 people and infected more than 100. Stearns Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is located at 2900 Stearns Avenue in Granite City. The 109-bed home operates as a lower quality, One-Star Medicare Certified, Medicaid Approved skilled nursing center.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, an investigation led by the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) revealed that the nursing home allowed employees to continue working despite testing positive for COVID-19. A facility director cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that address mitigating staff shortages to justify the shortcoming.

understaffing and falls at nursing homes
Like many U.S. nursing homes, elder care facilities in Illinois seem continuously challenged by an inadequate amount of care workers. Even though the state requires 2.5 hours of direct care for residents each day, about a quarter of the residents in Chicago-area homes are living in understaffed conditions putting them at risk for abuse and neglect.

While some long-term care facilities have been routinely understaffed for years, others continue to manage facilities with very little interest in providing attentive and quality resident care even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. As a result, fall-related injuries among residents are on the rise.

Hazards that contribute to nursing home resident fall injuries have included:

covid-19 pandemic highlights
U.S. nursing home residents, totaling 1.2 million seniors and nonelderly people with disabilities living in over 15,000 facilities, are at increased risk of coronavirus infection and complications. The combined challenges of the facility setting and shared living environment, residents with underlying health conditions, the close contact that many care workers have with residents, and failures in facilities who do not provide quality care, all contribute to the high number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in the elder communities.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), as of August 7, 20202:

  • More than 25,000 cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to nursing home residents and staff, resulting in 4,162 deaths.

nursing home staff ignoring dementia symptoms

Identifying Dementia Warning Signs in Nursing Home Residents

Dementia denial from caregivers is real and dangerous. And unfortunately, many nursing home owners find it easier to have staff ignore the warning signs of declining cognitive abilities rather than provide additional support. Dementia diagnoses can also be missed when overworked, and poorly resourced care teams are not trained to evaluate struggling residents who require extra supervision and management of their daily activities, medications, and financial needs. Eventually, these residents need to move to a 24-hour assisted specialized environment to keep them safe, especially as their disease progresses into later stages. Family members and friends are typically the first to request help after noticing a loved one’s behavioral changes or one or more of the concerning events listed below.

#1. Early Stage Memory Loss

nursing home understaffing dire

The Chronic Problems Related to Understaffed Nursing Homes

Deliberate understaffing is a common practice in nursing homes across the U.S., and especially here in Illinois, where nearly 70% of all long-term care networks are for-profit owned. When facilities are privately owned and operated, owners become more concerned about profits than having the right amount of staff available to provide quality patient care. According to a 2018-2019 report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services, an incredible 90% of U.S. facilities are understaffed. The findings were documented by evidence through payroll records that showed nursing homes were underreporting staffing challenges.

Worker shortages contribute to nursing home struggles that sometimes lead to preventable hospitalizations, injuries, or deaths. Risky cost-cutting measures and unethical practices are creating a ripple of adverse effects that nursing home residents ultimately pay for.

covid-19 update july 2020

FAQ: July 2020 COVID-19 Update for Illinois Nursing Home Families

As of July 10th, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reported 23,324 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,895 deaths among all Illinois long-term care (LTC) facilities, not just outbreaks. These numbers reflect over half of all coronavirus cases tied to long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living centers.

Because of the ill-preparedness and disastrous response to the pandemic by several nursing home owners and operators, the attorneys at Levin & Perconti have launched more than 100 investigations regarding gross negligence related to COVID-19 outbreaks in Illinois. And as part of our work as elder care advocates, we have provided answers and legal solutions to concerned family members and nursing home workers since the pandemic began.

inspection for nursing homes

How To Read a Nursing Home Inspection Survey To Identify Abuse or Neglect

All nursing home providers participating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) program must meet Federal reporting requirements as well as state laws as they relate to the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Homes must also remain in substantial compliance to remain in operation and be evaluated for care standards through annual surveys and inspections. It is expected that any recorded violation will then be addressed promptly and residents will no longer be at risk from those noted deficiencies.

Families can review a website published by CMS called Nursing Home Compare. Here, they can access quality of care information for every nursing home that participates in Medicare and Medicaid in Illinois. Nursing Home Compare provides an overall star rating based on three factors: health inspections, staffing levels, and quality measures, but also includes the results of recent health inspections.

calling 911 on covid-19

Nursing Home Staff and Residents With COVID-19 Are Dialing 911 For Help

Reports from WGLT NPR show a COVID-19 outbreak at Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center had staff and nursing home residents calling 911 on numerous occasions, requesting for urgent help and resident transfers. The home is located at 925 S. Main St. in Bloomington. Illinois Department of Health coronavirus tracking reports show the facility is home to McLean County’s most significant COVID-19 outbreak to date. And the irony? Bloomington Rehabilitation and Health Care Center struggled to provide quality care and adequate staffing even before the virus hit, according to recent government inspections.

Medicare surveyor reports on the Nursing Home Compare website and IDPH inspection records show:

nursing home negligence bed sores

A Common Sign of Nursing Home Neglect Is Bedsores

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nursing home neglect is the failure to provide care for an older adult. One of the earliest and common signs of nursing home neglect is bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers.

  • Bedsores are painful wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin.

40% of coronavirus deaths from nursing homes

Newly Released Data Shows Long-Term Care Facilities Report 40% of Coronavirus Deaths

Two new analyses of coronavirus deaths throughout the United States have revealed that many fatalities occur at long-term care facilities, as many as 43%. The data comes from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and ABC News. The ABC News report added that the figure is more than 50% in at least 18 states.

  1. Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (updated May 22, 2020)
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