When an elderly loved one is admitted into a nursing home, their family's expect medical staff to provide consistent and attentive care to enrich their loved one's lives and help them sustain good health. However, despite being perceived by most as a safe place, numerous reports indicate that various acts of physical, sexual and verbal abuse occur within these homes far too often. In the study, conducted by staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, researchers found that approximately 30% of nursing homes in the United States were cited for nearly 9,000 instances of abuse over a term of two years. Common issues consisted of inadequate medical care, bed sores, and preventable accidents.
Champaign County Nursing Home in Illinois is no stranger to controversy. So far, four patients of the facility have died while in the care of the medical staff. The most recent fatality involved Sonya Kington, a 78-year-old long-term resident of the home who investigators are saying may have been neglected.
All staff and investigators know as of late is that temperatures in Champaign-Urbana reached a record-breaking 87 degrees the day she passed. According to the accounts of several caretakers, it is possible that she may have been sitting outside in an enclosed area for as long as three hours. However, the cause of death is currently undetermined, says Coroner Duane Northup. But him and law enforcement officials believe that the circumstances of her death may indicate symptoms of heat exhaustion.
“She was lying on the sidewalk partially. She had no trauma, no head injury or anything like that,” Northup said. “Whether it was heat-related, that's one of the things we're looking at.”
The State Attorney Julia Rietz called the incident an “ongoing investigation.” The nursing home released a statement claiming that it is “devastated” by the loss of Kington, and that is is fully “cooperating with all investigating agencies.”
Just a few months prior to Kington's death, a 90-year-old male resident of the facility took his life. He was discovered unresponsive in his bed with an orange elastic band around his neck. Doctors documented that his official cause of death was strangulation. After a thorough investigation, the Illinois Department of Public Health has suggested that the Champaign County nursing home should pay a fine for the incident. They claim that the facility "failed to assess, supervise, formulate interventions and/or obtain a psychiatric consultation” for the resident who had tried to harm himself several times before. The investigative report reveals that several troubling incidents leading up to his death should have indicated that he should have been closely monitored by staff.
Whether either one of the families of the dead plan to pursue legal recourse is currently unknown.
If one of your loved one's has been injured while in the care of a nursing home facility, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced attorneys at Benassi & Benassi today for a consultation.