In recent months, there were reports of mysterious deaths of residents at the Holland Home nursing home in South Holland, Illinois. Holland Home is owned by Villa Health Care, which has also recently faced scrutiny when a dementia resident at another one of its homes (The Villa) fell and was injured, only for there to be an attempted cover-up by certain facility nurses until a nursing assistant blew the whistle on the incident.
Dangerous Elderly Mistreatment?
At Holland Home, a 98-year old resident was given overdoses of both morphine and hydrocodone, which are very powerful painkillers, and was hospitalized on February 3rd and died as a result on February 4th. Five other residents also became sick and were hospitalized along with her, though none of them died immediately (two later passed away). Authorities eventually ruled the death a homicide after an investigation. The two other residents who passed away, out of the six who were hospitalized, eventually died a few weeks later after the hospitalization, though it was unclear if it was from the same causes of overdoses of painkillers. Until recently, the medical examiner was still investigating their deaths. It was recently reported that one of those residents, another 98-year old, died from natural causes, according to the medical examiner.
The resident suffered from heart ailments, as well as dementia and renal disease, and the official cause of death was reported at nwitimes.com as “hypertensive cardiovascular disease,” with heart disease contributing, according to a county spokesman. While it could not be ruled out that the initial hospitalization on February 3rd may have been due to an overmedication similar to the first person who died, it is conclusive that this second death did not stem from the overmedication because he is said to have recovered from the overmedication prior to his death. The causes of the third death from this group have not yet been publicly announced.
While the second death was not attributed to the overdose, and it may be somewhat comforting to know that they passed away from natural causes as opposed to how the first victim died, this entire incident underscores the importance of proper investigations into such incidents. One of the major issues at nursing homes in general is understaffing. Facility owners sometimes cut staff in order to save money on those wages and salaries to ultimately increase profit margins.
Yet the lack of nurses and/or nursing aides can leave. In this case of the six illnesses and the death of at least one of those individuals from painkiller overdosing, it has been suggested that the nursing home in question was understaffed and that such understaffing contributed to these events. The hospitalizations occurred after the Chicago area was covered in almost two feet of snow, possibly contributing to the lack of staff. But that lack of staffing can leave the present nurses and aides overtaxed to the point they do not pay enough attention to residents, or use unconventional or dangerous methods to handle patients just to keep up. Problems like overdoses are just an example.
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