Illinois has had a fairly mixed record as a state when it comes to the quality of care at its nursing homes, and unfortunately ranks toward the bottom of the list closer to the likes of Texas and Oklahoma. Case in point, a recent report by an advocacy group has found that in one particular part of the state – Sauk Valley in Dixon County – has had a miserable record of nursing home success, or lack thereof. The specific watchdog group is based out of Florida and is called Families for Better Care.
Families for Better Care evaluates and rates nursing home performance in different states and generally advocates for improved quality of care for facility patients, better oversight of facilities, better laws, rules and regulations, and stiffer enforcement of those rules to ensure nursing homes and their staffs comply. Families for Better Care recently assessed that approximately a quarter of nursing homes in the state of Illinois have been found to have at least one deficiency in the last two years or so, and accordingly assigned Illinois an ‘F’ rating.
Problems Close to Home
More specifically, local nursing homes in Sauk Valley were particularly egregious, and an outlet called Sauk Valley Media looked closer at those particular facilities over the course of half a year. It interviewed numerous experts, government employees, advocates and nursing home administrators and others, and also reviewed thousands of pages of nursing home records. In one particularly horrible event at the Dixon Rehab and Health Center in July 2013, a diabetic patient suffered from a 100+ degree fever and had a hard time breathing. He was moved to a hospital but then released from the hospital in spite of the fact his blood sugar remained dangerously high, according to a nurse practitioner. Over the course of observation, his temperature was then about 99 degrees, and then another while later found mucous lining the sides of the patient’s mouth. It was later reported that the patient was not given insulin until the morning after he was admitted because the facility had not procured the insulin as it is supposed to.
The patient then spent about two days in a hypoglycemic state as a result of the delayed insulin treatment. To add to this, the man had a standing status code that he be resuscitated in such situations, but his chart lacked this information and so the nursing staff neglected to perform CPR on the patient (government investigators found similar incorrect paperwork for other residents at the facility as well). The patient died, and the nursing home was fined over $48,000 by both the federal and state governments for the nursing home staff’s negligence in monitoring the patient.
Sauk Valley investigators found other similar events at nursing homes in the region. Such deficiencies put residents at tremendous risk. As reported, every facility with these noted problems received some type of government fine, although they remain open so far. And while the report bodes poorly for facilities in this area, the state government also shares some blame in that much of the information it is supposed to post online about these nursing homes has not been updated for several years, thus sanction records, staffing levels and other data are likely to be far outdated and likely inaccurate. This is a failure of the state’s obligations under the law. It is also disturbing that many facilities benefited from fine reductions by the government when they opted not to challenge citations and sanctions any further. There is plenty more from this Sauk report, and consumers in the area should understand these significant problems.
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