December 7, 2011

Nursing Home Costs Continue to Rise

The Chicago Tribune reported recently that in Illinois, the average cost of nursing home care per year is roughly $79,000 for a private room. A semi-private room runs at about $61,000 per year.

In 2020, an estimated 15 millions Americans will need some type of long term care and by all accounts, the cost of the care will not become any less expensive.

The cost of nursing home care in Illinois is shocking to any budget. It is important to investigate and research all options before choosing a nursing home. In doing so, the attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates urge people to look into whether the nursing home has been fined, ticketed, or otherwise punished for any infractions or violations. It is also critical to research the doctors and nurses on staff and be sure that they too have a clean record.

Finally, take the time to go meet and interview the primary care providers at the top nursing homes of your choice. Be sure that you, or your love done, would be comfortable being around these individuals every day. Furthermore, ask to meet some of the daily nursing home care staff. These are the people who are literally with residents 24/7.

Nursing home
care is extremely costly. Before making such an important investment in the lives of yourself of your family member, take the necessary precautions to ensure you are making the right decision.

December 2, 2011

Local Nursing Home Fined for Choking Incident

A Jacksonville, Illinois nursing home has been fined $2,200 by the State for failing to supervise a patient who died from choking on food this fall.

Jeff Lair, a Morgan County Coroner, ruled Marian Ryan's death an accident. However, Mr. Lair stated that the state investigation into her death was conducted upon his request.

According to the investigation report, Ryan was eating a sandwich at North Church Nursing & Rehab, when she began to choke and passed out. Ryan was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The choking began after a nurse's aid briefly left the table where Ryan was sitting.

In October 2009, another patient at North Church (previously known as Golden Moments) choked on his food and died. The State issued a $50,000 fine to the nursing home. The case was later settled in October 2010 when North Church paid $32,500.

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November 29, 2011

Controversial Arbitration Agreements in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawsuits

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution. The purpose of arbitration is to attempt to resolve a conflict outside of the court system. In arbitration, a third party comes in and helps two disputing parties to resolve any conflict or issues and aid the parties in reaching a settlement. Arbitration settlements are legally binding. However, simply because one enters into arbitration does not necessarily mean the dispute will be resolved in the proceeding.

There has been increasing discussions in the nursing home community about placing arbitration agreements into nursing home service contracts. This means that if a resident of a nursing home is injured because of a nursing home's negligence, the resident cannot resort to the courts as an initial means of resolving the issue.

Residents, and/or their legal guardians, would be required to submit to arbitration before filing a lawsuit.

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November 21, 2011

Illinois Nurse Accused on Withholding Medications from Resident

A nurse at a Southwestern Illinois nursing home stands accused of purposely withholding medications from an 83-year-old resident. The medications were allegedly prescribed to the resident. According to a spokeswoman from the local prosecutor's office, the nurse withheld the medications for a period of 45 days spanning from January 2011 through February 2011.

The spokeswoman said that the resident was hospitalized for a time but then returned to the nursing home. The resident passed away this year. It is not clear yet whether or not the resident's death was a result of the nurse's conduct.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act provides for the rights of residents and the responsibilities of nursing home facilities. Knowingly withholding medication is a clear violation of the Act.

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November 17, 2011

Adults with Mental Illnesses in Nursing Homes

When most of us think of a nursing home, we picture frail, elderly, people. The reality is that an increasing number of adults with serious mental illnesses are being housed and cared for in Illinois nursing homes.

According to an analysis by the Assoicated Press, the number of mentally ill nursing home patients has jumped by 41% since 2002. In our neighboring state of Missouri, it has climbed nearly 76%.

Mentally ill patients technically should not be receiving treatment in nursing homes unless they suffer from disabilities that require extra care and supervision.

Furthermore, having mentally ill patients in the same environment as elderly nursing home patients can deter from the quality of care nursing home residents receive.

The attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates are dedicated to ensuring that nursing home residents receive the care and attention that they deserve and require. If you or someone you love has suffered from poor care at a nursing home facility, call the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates today.

November 11, 2011

Advancing Forensic Knowledge: Increasing Detection of Nursing Home Abuse

Elder abuse comes in many forms, including but not limited to phsyical, sexual and financial abuse. This type of abuse happens in the home, in the community, in assisted living centers and in nursing homes. In fact, according to a phone survey done by the National Institute on Justice, one in ten healthy adults over the age of sixty are victims. In addition, a study by the University of California-Irvine revealed that 47% of elders cared for by family members are abused and/or neglected and as many of 96% of cases go unreported. This is not suprising when you consider how difficult it is to detect the signs of elder abuse. People do not know what signs to look for and becasue the elder tend to bruise and facture more easily, such things as bruising on the neck, head, inner thights, etc. often do not raise red flags.

Marie-Therese Connolly, a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, discusses how foresnic science could be a way to increase detection of nursing home abuse. She says that "[a]dvancing forensic knoweldge is important so social and protective services workers, physicians, emergency room personnel and presecutors know what to look for and what kinds of questions to ask about injuries." If a person can assess the nature of a bruise on an elder individual, this could absolutely increase detection of abuse and/or neglect.

As the Baby Boomers age, the population that is most vulnerable to nursing home neglect and/or abuse is sure to increase. With the inevitable soon-to-be increase in the elder population, the public needs to be educated on how to detect nursing home-related injuries and the advancement of foresnic knowledge is an important and effective way of achieving that objective.

If you or someone you love has been injured at a nursing home, please call the experienced attorneys at Ed Fox & Associates today. We are dedicated to ensuring nursing home residents obtain the proper care and attention to keep residents healthy and safe.

November 11, 2011

OSHA Plans Inspection of Nursing Homes

Approximately 300 nursing homes can expect inspections by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The inspections are part of one of the latest agency directives aimed at long-term care providers.

Nursing homes with 20 or more employees that have a Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred rate at or over 16 days are the main target.

OSHA inspectors are focusing on workplace factors such as stressors, exposure to blood ot other potentially infectious materials, exposure to tuberculosis, as well as trips, slips, and falls.

Nursing homes workers have come to the attention of OSHA due to their high rate of injury on the job and illness.

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November 3, 2011

Winter in Chicago is Fast Approaching; Nursing Homes Prepare

It is the beginning of November. Snow is not far off and colder weather has already set in. The Chicagoland area is no stranger to winter storms and freezing temperatures. With the winter weather fast approaching, nursing homes need to be prepare their facilities and residents for the winter season.

Nursing homes are required by law to maintain safe and functioning facilities. This means nursing homes and their staff should be checking furnaces for proper function and safety which includes reviewing every resident's room to be sure the temperatures remain warm.

Nursing home residents are more susceptible to cold and flu viruses. All nursing home residents should receive flu shots in order to protect them this winter.

Furthermore, icy conditions can often leave to damaging falls and accidents. To avoid icy conditions, salt and sand may be used on outdoor pathways to ensure resident and staff safety.

If you or a loved one lives in a nursing home, be sure to ask the staff what they are doing to prepare the facility for the cold weather and winter storms.

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November 1, 2011

Breath of Fresh Air in Nursing Home Care

Toni Davis is the director of Green Hill Retirement Community in New Jersey. Green Hill is one of two dozen other nursing home operators who is trying to reinvent the nursing home through implementing Green Houses.

The Green House Project is dedicated to giving the elderly a more home-like environment while still being in the care of nursing home staff.

At the Green Hill Retirement Community, 4 new Green Homes have been built behind the larger nursing home facility. The homes are designed to be just that, homes. 10 residents live in each home. The front door opens to a large living and dining area that attaches to an open kitchen. Ms. Davis said the open layout allows the staff to communicate with members while cooking meals. Private baths and bedrooms circle the large living area. The homes also boast front porches and back decks for residents to socialize on or simply relax.

Ms. Davis is determined to make the nursing home community a place where residents feel little reason to leave. She put in fish tanks, bird cages, and brings dogs in for pet therapy.

In traditional nursing homes, each staff employee has a specific job; cooking and laundry are two examples. Furthermore, nursing homes operate on a fairly tight schedule. Residents are woken up in the morning, fed, and bathed.

Two certified nurses assistants work in the homes and are not assigned to specific tasks. One licensed nurse does rounds between the homes throughout the day.

The assistants do pretty much everything in the home including cooking, cleaning, laundry, and bathing residents. This allows the residents to become familiar with the staff and also allows the residents more flexibility in their schedules. One staff member at Green Hill commented that if a resident does not feel like waking up for breakfast, she doesn't have to. Instead, the staff can bring her a milkshake in bed.

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October 27, 2011

Alleged Sex Crime in Crystal Lake, Illinois Nursing Home

On Wednesday, October 26, 2011, the Northwest Herald reported that a 22-year-old certified nurse's assistance is facing felony sex charges. The young man worked at the Crystal Pines Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

A 93-year-old patient of the Crystal Pines facility is alleging that the nurse's assistance penetrated her with his fingers at around 4:00 a.m. one morning. Immediately after the alleged incident occurred, the patient notified authorities and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

The facility's administrator stated that Crystal Pine's complies with the Illinois Department of Health's rule that requires a criminal background check of all nursing home staff and residents. He stated that he was not aware of anything in the suspect's background that would have made him ineligible to work there.

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October 24, 2011

$91.5 Million Dollar Damage Award against Nursing Home Facility

A jury in Charleston, West Virginia awarded $91.5 million dollars in damages against a Heartland nursing home. The plaintiff, an 87 year-old woman, died from complications caused by severe dehydration after she was admitted to the Heartland home for only 3 weeks.

Tom Douglas, the plaintiff's son, said her stay in the home was intended to be temporary and would last until another bed opened up at a local nursing home. The lawsuit claimed that the nursing home failed to feed and properly care for Mr. Douglas' mother, resulting her death only hours after leaving the Heartland home. Mr. Douglas stated that before his mother entered Heartland, she could walk and talk. 3 weeks later she was confined to a wheelchair.

Nursing home abuse and neglect cases are litigated around the U.S. on an increasingly frequent basis. Sadly, most of the cases arise from the death of a loved one who was a resident at a nursing home facility.

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October 18, 2011

Sex Offenders Living in Kansas Nursing Homes; Illinois Legislation Combats the Threat

More than a dozen sex offenders live in Kansas nursing homes, the Wichita Eagle reported Sunday. Officials said there is not system in place to alert the facilities that the sex offenders are moving in.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation report found that 19 of the 5,868 people in the sex offender registry listed nursing homes as their current residences. The sex offenders have been convicted of crimes that include indecent exposure and rape. Shockingly, 7 of the offenders lived in a single Wichita nursing home before being transferred to different facilities.

This news caused policy makers to consider implementing a system in which nursing homes will be made aware of any resident's status as a sex offender before they move into the facility. Another option is to build nursing homes specifically for aging sex offenders.

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October 14, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Nurse Pleads Guilty to Criminal Neglect

Marty Himebaugh, dubbed the 'Angel of Death', plead guilty on Thursday to criminal neglect of a long-term care facility resident. Himebaugh worked at a Woodstock, Illinois, facility that has since changed ownership.

Himebaugh is accussed of arbitrarily administering morphine and anti-anxiety medications to patients at the Woodstock home. Prosecutors say that her conduct recklessly endangered the patients' lives by giving unprescribed medications and excessive levels of morphine.

An investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health found that she gave the residents drugs to ensure that the nurses' had a quiet shift.

On at least one occassion, Himebaugh gave a resident Avitan. Avitan is a medication used to combat anxiety and the side-effects include drowsiness and decreased balance. The resident fell on his head and suffered from a head injury as a result of being given the Avitan.

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October 13, 2011

Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Part 4: What are the Responsibilities of Nursing Homes?

We have already addressed many of the rights of residents under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The Act not only establishes the basic rights of nursing home residents but also sets forth responsibilities of nursing home facilities. Many of the below listed responsibilities may seem common place however, any violation of these responsibilities is a serious matter.

Responsibilities of Nursing Home:

- A nursing home must always have a resident advisory counsel. The counsel is to be made up entirely of residents. The counsel must meet at least once a month and is intended to be a forum where residents can obtain and disseminate information, solicit and adopt recommendations for facility programs or improvements, and identify and recommend orderly solutions to problems.

- Records of all residents must remain confidential. All health records and documentations must remain completely confidential and cannot be released without consent of the resident or his or her guardian.

- A nursing home is required to have a system of policies and procedures. The polices and procedures must be written and available to all residents to staff members. It must include the procedure for the investigation and resolution of resident complaints. It must be clear and unambiguous. A written copy of the policies and procedures must be made available to every resident and representative.

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October 4, 2011

Chicago Area Budget Cuts Leave Transfer Patients at Risk

An Oak Park Charity hospital closed its doors to long-term care patients at the end of Summer 2011. The closure is blamed on the massive budget deficit that is plaguing Cook County.

The hospital was home to patients who required high levels of treatment and care. One such individual, Michael Yanul, was forced to transfer to a local area nursing home after the hospital shut down. Mr. Yanul had muscular dystrophy and required a ventilator to breathe. Mr. Yanul feared he would not survive the transfer and sadly, his fears became true.

Just three weeks after transferring to a local nursing home, Mr. Yanul died of pneumonia and a blood infection after a number of issues with his care arose at the home. Tom Yunal, Michael Yunal's brother, has filed a complaint against the nursing home claiming that the home lacked the necessary equipment to care for his brother and that the staff was not trained on how to care for him.

Transfers of this type are extremely complex and communication between the sending and receiving facilities are essential. Even minor changes in types of equipment used can prove fatal.

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