Inspections find peril in central Illinois nursing homes

After months of interviews and reviewing Medicare data, Illinois Department of Public Health reports, court records and other documents, found that central Illinois homes are still accumulating steep fines and leaving residents at risk for untreated injuries, infections and medication errors. Credits
Reporting by Robert Holly and Claire Everett
Photographs by Darrell Hoemann
Graphics by Claire Everett and Acton H. Gorton


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Here are some of the key facts and findings:

In 16 Illinois counties, there are 81 nursing homes that accept government assistance under Medicare. More than 41 percent of those homes, a total of 34 facilities, are rated below what Medicare considers average. Champaign County has seven nursing homes. Three of those homes are rated as one-star facilities on Medicare’s five-star rating scale.

Husband’s treatment prompts wrongful death lawsuit

After being admitted to the nursing home Heartland of Champaign to recover from a hospital stay for chest pain last year, Gerald Warmbier’s health rapidly deteriorated. Just days after entering the nursing home in May, he became “very sleepy” and unresponsive, Illinois Department of Public Health inspection reports noted. As a result, he was sent to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, where he slowly started recovering after a little more than a week. Return to Key Findings
Inspections find peril in central Illinois nursing homes

Warmbier vs Heartland
Click to read a copy of the Warmbier vs Heartland complaint.

Tips for finding a good nursing home

In one central Illinois nursing home, staff allowed a man labeled as an “elopement risk” to leave and wander 38 miles away.

In another facility, two employees were caught whispering that one of the employees was having an affair with a female resident’s husband until the resident started crying.

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Understaffing hard on nursing homes, residents alike

For many, nursing homes seem like the best option for aging family members because facilities offer the promise of 24-hour care.

It is a promise, though, that many Champaign County and central Illinois nursing homes are finding hard to keep because of understaffing, particularly when it comes to registered nurses.

State officials overhaul nursing home care

In July 2010, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law two bills that introduced broad reforms for the state’s nursing homes.

The laws strengthened the screening process to keep residents with histories of violent crimes separate from vulnerable, elderly residents; instituted tougher quality and staffing requirements; upped fines for violations; increased the number of state inspectors by nearly 50 percent; and added new requirements for quicker reporting of fraud, neglect and abuse, among other changes.