March 2012 Archives

Widespread Negligence and Mistreatment Reported at Latino Chicago Nursing Home

March 14, 2012

A recent report of an unsafe Humboldt Park nursing home calls attention to the chronic problem of understaffed nursing homes that choose to put profits ahead of patient safety. In Illinois and around the country, nursing homes are attempting to cope with growing budget restraints by cutting down on the number of employees. Sadly, although these staff cuts may lead to larger profits, they also deprive vulnerable residents of the treatment and care they need.

Our Chicago nursing home negligence lawyers vigorously advocate on behalf of local seniors and their families who depend on nursing home facilities to meet their long-term care needs. At a minimum, these seniors deserve to have their most basic needs met, including adequate stock of items such as adult diapers, gloves, and soap. When these supplies are not provided, or other critical needs are ignored, studies show that illness and injuries are more likely to happen.

The latest report of nursing home negligence at the Center Home for Hispanic Elderly in Humboldt Park is a clear example of an understaffed facility that is putting residents at risk of great harm. According to the Chicago Tribune, several investigations are underway due to numerous complaints of staffing and supply shortages at the facility. It appears that basic caregiver duties are not being met, forcing residents to suffer unsafe and unsanitary conditions. One woman even told the Tribune that negligence may have caused her mother's death. The victim's health rapidly deteriorated during her time at the facility, where she was not provided adequate supplies of diapers and soap. The victim eventually suffered a urinary tract infection and died a week later.

Safety issues seem to be worsening at the facility, where a majority of residents are Latino. Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website recently gave the Center Home a one-star rating, which is the worse rating possible. This is down from two stars in July 2011. Many of these issues are likely due to understaffing. Reports indicate that residents receive an average of just 0.32 hours of care per day, which is among the lowest percentage nationwide. When nursing homes and other long-term care facilities fail to provide proper staff, it is impossible for residents to get the care that they need. Research shows that a lack of attention and care can lead to serious problems, such as dehydration, pressure sores, and falls.

In order to protect residents from the serious risk of harm, the state and federal governments have enacted minimum staffing regulations that nursing facilities must comply with. Federal law requires that Medicare and Medicaid funded nursing homes provide each resident with at least 3 hours of skilled care per day. Illinois requirements are even more stringent, with the state's landmark 2010 nursing home reform law calling for at least 3.8 hours of care per resident per day. At least 20 percent of that care must be provided by a registered nurse.

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Dementia Patient Suffers Fatal Beating at a Negligent Suburban Illinois Nursing Home

March 7, 2012

A homicide investigation continues into the death of an 80-year-old dementia patient who was brutally beaten by a fellow resident at an Oak Park nursing home on February 12, 2012. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, the victim of the attack was found lying unconscious after an altercation with a 66-year-old resident from the same ward at the Oak Park Healthcare Center nursing home. An autopsy revealed that the victim died of a traumatic brain injury from the assault.

Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers are shocked by the negligent circumstances surrounding this attack. Early reports indicate that the alleged perpetrator had a violent criminal history that was not adequately addressed by nursing home staff. Illinois law requires that nursing homes conduct background checks on residents within approximately three days of admission in order to determine whether or not they pose a substantial safety threat. Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a duty to supervise and protect all residents who are under their care. Accordingly, if a background check reveals that a resident has a criminal past, the nursing home must conduct a qualified risk assessment and make special arrangements to ensure the safety of other residents in the facility. Information about a resident's criminal background must also be provided to anyone who makes a request.

Unfortunately, it appears that this was not the first instance of nursing home negligence at this facility. According to the OakLeaves, which is published by the Chicago Sun-Times, at least 120 formal complaints have been made against the facility since 2001. Close to 10 identified criminal offenders currently live at the nursing home facility. The Illinois Department of Public Health has cited the facility several times in recent years for failing to properly report resident abuse, failing to enact comprehensive care plans for identified risk offenders, and failing to notify state authorities after discharging residents with a criminal history.

In addition to a number of complaints involving residents with felony backgrounds, other serious violations have been committed at Oak Park Healthcare that seriously jeopardized the safety of residents. In February 2010, a mentally ill resident engaged in a series of physical and verbal attacks against other residents and nursing home staff, but administrators at the facility did not take any steps to intervene. Another troubling example of inadequate care and supervision occurred in 2005, when a female resident at the facility was raped by a male resident who was under the influence of alcohol. Other fines and citations have been issued for hygiene violations and abuse by staff members.

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