Symphony at the Tillers of Oswego releases COVID-19 statistics showing 46 COVID infections and 9 deaths. Levin & Perconti, Illinois nursing home lawyers launch investigation into gross negligence in preventing the spread of COVID-19
On June 12. 2020, Symphony at the Tillers of Oswego, located in Oswego, IL, released long term care outbreak data reporting of laboratory confirmed COVID-19 outbreak cases. These statics confirm that 46 infections and 9 deaths have occurred at the facility during the COVID-19 outbreak.
An April 24, 2020 article by the Oswego Patch noted that at that point, three residents that tested positive for COVID-19 had recently been transferred to Symphony at the Tillers from a sister site, Symphony at Joliet. Further, the article noted that an anonymous staff whistle-blower brought Symphony at the Tillers brought the facility to the attention of the Patch staff after he became concerned by a “lack of transparency” by the Tillers of Oswego staff. Additionally, the staff member noted that after another staff member had told them that the former Joliet residents had been tested for COVID, as the results were pending, another staff member mentioned that many of the residents were “coughing and feverish.” Following this, the staff member noted that the residents from Joliet ended up testing positive.
Based on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Quarterly Reports of Nursing Home Violations, Symphony at the Tillers of Oswego was found to be in violation of several procedures.
In Quarter 4 of 2019 (October – December), Symphony at the Tillers was fined for Type B violations including sections 300.610(a), 300.1210(b), 300.1210(d)(1)(2), and 300.3240(a). The facility’s violations included multiple instances of abuse and neglect, including but not limited to, failing to provide a resident with the nutritional requirements indicated by their care plan. Ultimately, this resulted in the resident losing a significant amount of weight and noting that because of his weight loss he was feeling weak.
In Quarter 2 of 2017 (April – June), Symphony at the Tillers was similarly fined for Type B violations including 300.610(a), 300.1010(h), 300.1210(b), 300.1210(d)(6), and 300.3240(a) when the facility dialed to implement fall prevention and safety measures for a resident who was at a high risk for falls. As a result, the resident fell, sustaining a fractured wrist. Additionally, following the fall, the facility also failed to complete a comprehensive pain assessment for a resident injury and also failed to notify the physician of x-ray results.
In Quarter 4 of 2017 (October – December), Symphony at the Tillers was cited for Type A violations including 300.610(a), 300.1210(c), 300.1210(d)(6), and 300.3240(a) when the facility failed to provide adequate supervision for a resident at high risk for falls. As a result, the resident sustained a traumatic brain injury/acute subdural hemorrhage requiring emergent craniotomy surgery.
The Illinois Department of Public Health conducts annual recertification surveys in which nursing homes are subjected to a review of their regulatory histories, as well as any violations occurring at the facility. When a facility is found to be in violation, the facility is required to submit a plan of correction noting both how it will remedy the violation and how it will prevent similar violations in the future.
A recertification survey was conducted for Symphony at the Tillers of Oswego on October 28, 2016. During the survey, Symphony at the Tillers was found to be in violation of several regulations including, but not limited to, those governing the spread of infection and infection control when the facility failed to transport soiled linen in a manner that would prevent contamination. Additionally, the facility failed to prevent a wound vac and catheter tubing from dragging on the floor, as well as keeping the electronic control units and mattress air pump machines off the floor to prevent contamination. In response, the facility submitted a plan of correction in which it noted that it would conduct and in-service regarding the proper handling of linen handling, infection control, and monitoring tubing and catheters. Further, the facility’s corrections included having the wound care nurse keep a log of resident’s with air loss mattresses and coordinate with maintenance to ensure that the mattresses were not kept on the ground, as well as attaching bags to the wheelchairs to prevent tubing and catheters from dragging on the floor.
Another recertification survey was completed on August 11, 2017. While this survey did not contain any violations related specifically to the spread of infection and infection control, the survey did include violations regarding residents’ right to be free from abuse and involuntary seclusion when an employee of the facility put a resident with a cognitive impairment in “time out” in a wing of the shower room. Following this assessment, the facility submitted another plan of correction in which is set forth corrections including, but not limited to, removing the resident from seclusion and assessing them, removing the resident from the staff members contact, conducting an investigation, reporting the incident to all responsible parties, and sending initial and final reports to the IDPH.
Additionally, in a September 27, 2018 recertification survey, the facility was cited for failing to flush a resident’s gastronomy tube before administering medication. A plan of correction was submitted which included providing an in-service regarding proper procedure for g-tube administration. Further the facility noted that it would be conducting randomized weekly audits to monitor the procedure.
The most recent recertification survey was conducted on October 23, 2019. During this survey, the facility was found in violation for failing to provide timely assistance to a resident complaining of abdominal discomfort and lack of urine flow in the resident’s indwelling urinary catheter. Again, the facility submitted a plan of correction including corrections such as providing in-service education regarding the importance of ensuring that all residents with indwelling catheters are provided timely assistance, as well as performing randomized weekly audits to monitor and ensure that residents with indwelling catheters are receiving timely assistance.
Founding partner Steven M. Levin described these outbreaks in many Illinois Nursing Homes: “for many years prior to this outbreak, Symphony at the Tillers of Oswego operated with insufficient staff and with a lack of adherence to recognized infection control protocols. It is not surprising that they were ill equipped to handle this outbreak.”
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As COVID-19 continues to spread, it has also magnified systemic breakdowns within Illinois’ long-term care facilities, nursing homes, or assisted living centers. After this latest release of reported data by IDPH, more than half of the COVID-19-related fatalities in Illinois have now occurred at these facilities.