One of the biggest problems surrounding nursing home abuse is that it often goes unreported. Victims may fear retaliation if they report abuse at the hands of caretakers. Other residents may be physically unable to report abuse because of their medical status. However, even after a resident at an Illinois nursing home reported abuse, the facility failed to report the incident to state authorities.
An 89-year-old resident of a Chicago nursing home who suffered from Parkinson's emphysema and dysphagia had an incontinence issue and called for assistance. The resident made repeated calls before a certified nurse's aide arrived to help. However, instead of helping the resident, the aide reportedly choked, hit and scratched the resident because the CNA said the resident was wet and kept calling for assistance.
After the resident reported being choked and hit, a nurse came to the room and apparently did nothing about it. When a nurse supervisor examined the resident, they found scratches on the lower neck and chest that were consistent with the resident's version of what had occurred. Additionally, residents in nearby rooms were disturbed by noises of yelling and fight. When confronted, the nurse's aide admitted to hitting the resident. However, this incident was never reported to authorities.
There are nearly 1,200 long-term care facilities in Illinois, with more than 100,000 residents, including many elderly residents. These facilities are licensed and regulated by the state, which includes annual inspections, complaint investigations and reinvestigations. The Bureau of Long-Term Care is responsible for making sure these nursing home comply with the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.
When inspectors did their regular inspection of the Belhaven Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in Morgan Park, they found the home to not be in compliance with state and federal regulations. The facility was issued a statement of deficiencies for failing to follow required procedures to report residents' claims of abuse.
According to a report issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), after the facility became aware of the reported abuse, they failed to immediately remove the abusive staff member, allowing them to complete their shift, which may have placed other residents in danger of physical harm. Belhaven has 10 days to submit an action plan to the IDPH to correct their deficiencies.
A news report found that between 2010 and 2016, there were 26 lawsuits filed against Belhaven. Alderman Matt O'Shea has advised those with friends or family members who are residents at Belhaven to check up on their loved ones.
“I'm shocked and saddened that our most vulnerable population—our elderly—could be facing these type of conditions,” said O'Shea. “Anyone with knowledge that would aid the Illinois Department of Public Health in their work with Belhaven is asked to contact my office.”
If you suspect a family member in a nursing home has been abused by a staff member or other resident, you should speak with an experienced attorney who understands Illinois nursing home negligence law. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve and equal treatment under the law.