Dozens of elderly nursing home residents were forced to quickly relocate from the nursing home facility they were living due to funding problems. The Astoria Gardens and Rehab center, a nursing home that existed for decades in west-central Illinois, recently closed its doors after reports of late state payments. The nursing home facility was home to more than 35 residents and employed about 40 people.
When a nursing home facility closes, it is the nursing home's responsibility to relocate residents, and a 90-day notice is required. Unfortunately, Astoria's residents were given just a couple of weeks to find new homes. Many of the residents were in their 80s and 90s, so forcing them to a different location in such a short period of time likely took a serious emotional and physical toll.
Reports from the Peoria Star Journal claim that the state was at least six months behind in its healthcare reimbursement payments to the facility, although government officials deny the allegations. A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health confirms that the closing was voluntary.
Astoria is one of many nursing homes around the country closing due to underfunding by Medicaid. Our Illinois nursing home lawyers realize that as more and more nursing homes close, our loved ones are having trouble finding places to live in their elder years. The number of available nursing home beds has decreased at least 5 percent in the last decade, and the number of available high-quality senior care options continues to rapidly diminish.
We also recognize that nursing home closures can lead to abuse and neglect of vulnerable residents. Unfortunately, some nursing facilities that remain open in our area are already operating with minimum staffing levels and cannot provide adequate monitoring and supervision to residents presently in their care. The additional burden of even more residents, requiring more medications and maintenance, may open the door for instances of nursing home negligence.
According to a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, widespread nursing home and long-term care facility closures have hit minority seniors hardest. There are twice as many closings in low-income or minority communities, where a majority of residents are Medicaid recipients. This may be due to the fact that Medicaid reimbursement rates are much lower than the fees private residents pay to nursing homes. As a result, a lack of funding is giving a disproportionate number of minority-area nursing homes reason to shut their doors.
Nursing homes owe residents a duty of adequate care, and are liable for injuries resulting from nursing home abuse or negligence. Underfunding is clearly a problem for many Illinois nursing homes and nursing homes around the country. But a lack of funding is no excuse for inadequate care. We trust that our loved ones will be properly supervised when they are in the care of a licensed nursing home facility. When examples of nursing home negligence happen, such as inadequate supervision or improper medication doses, nursing home workers need to held responsible. Our experienced Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers have worked with many nursing home victims and their families to help them recover for their losses.