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.
Unfortunately, a shocking number of local nursing homes such as the Center Home are failing to meet the legal standards. The latest statistics from state legislators show that more than one in three Chicago nursing homes are currently violating legally required staffing minimums. Failing to provide the required number of nursing home hours is putting residents at risk of great harm. Residents at understaffed nursing facilities are more likely to suffer urinary-tract infections, repeated hospitalizations, and even death.
If you or a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at an understaffed nursing home, it is important to contact one of our Illinois nursing home lawyers immediately. Civil liability may deter nursing homes from operating with illegal staff levels and help to prevent future harm. Until these negligent facilities are held accountable, it is likely that residents will continue to suffer preventable injuries and even death.