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        Can I Find Out About Citations and Violations Given to Nursing Homes?

        150 150 Clifford Horwitz

        Question:

        Is there a way for me to determine the amount of citations and violations given to a nursing home when comparing facilities for my dad?

        Answer:

        Yes. Information is listed on the llinois Department of Aging website that allows you to view the most recent inspection performed at a specific facility and the result of the survey. The information includes the type of violations found and the level of harm (if any) the violation imposed on residents.

        Of course, what you and I believe presents a high level of risk to those we love may be viewed less harmful by the state, given their classifications, but the site will offer you an opportunity to assess your personal expectations within the greater picture of things. The findings are, if nothing else, a stark dose of reality, reminding all searching for a quality facility to BEWARE and take nothing for granted. Even some of the worst facilities feature beautiful wallpaper and rich artwork.

        The state’s website is far from perfect and should be used only as an initial tool for evaluation. Information provided on the website is typically less than current, and many things that are provided are submitted by the nursing homes themselves and may be misleading.

        As an example, here’s a search that we conducted on 10/10/07 for the purpose of this column:

        When prompted to enter a city, state or other regional information to narrow our search to a specific community, I entered Peoria, Illinois, and asked for facilities within a 10-mile radius.

        The names and information appeared for twenty-five facilities within that 10-mile radius of Peoria.

        To begin looking at individual reviews, I placed a check box by the first five facilities listed. At a glance, four out of the five had eight (8) or fewer violations, totaling twenty-four (24) violations when combined.

        One facility, however, the East Peoria Gardens Health Center, has thirty-five (35) violations alone! By clicking on “View all information about this nursing home” I was then taken to a page that contains more information, including a link for “Inspection Results” where more details about their violations is listed.

        East Peoria Gardens Health Center’s inspection/survey was one of the more current surveys found on the state’s website (04/07). Of the 35 violations/citations posted, five were considered a “Level 4”, which is the highest possible rating for “immediate jeopardy to resident health or safety”. These included:

        • Failure to protect residents from mistreatment, neglect, and/or theft of private property,
        • Failure to give each resident care and services to get, or keep the highest quality of life,
        • Failure to give special rehabilitation if in the patient’s care plan,
        • Failure to make sure the nursing home is free of dangers that cause accidents,
        • Failure to be administered in a way that leads to the highest possible level of well-being for each resident.

        At the very least, these five violations alone (out of the 35 in total) should not only be a huge red flag, but suggest that at the most basic level, this facility is failing to give proper care as a safe and dignified residential nursing home care unit.

        You might be wondering …if a single facility can be cited for 35 violations, 5 of which are listed at the highest level of risk to patients, and for which ‘Residents Affected’ was often cited as “Many”

        • Why has the license for this facility not been taken away?
        • How many residents – all loved ones of someone – have to be hurt or die as a result of poor care, neglect and preventable injury?
        • Why has the state Ombudsman not held public hearings or taken out public notices (as they are mandated to do) so that the community and families are made aware of this facilities failures?

        You would, of course, be asking yourself the same questions that we’re asked everyday about facilities throughout the state of Illinois, some still operating and funded by the state with far worse records. They continue to operate because the state agencies charged with oversight have failed to uphold their obligations and the law, and will continue to fail in the future.

        You must understand, it is not enough to simply ask the questions. As long as citizens of our state do not DEMAND better, and hold not only the facilities themselves accountable, but the state’s agencies who are so openly failing in oversight, residents will continue to suffer the neglect and abuse so widespread today in larger, growing numbers.

        To learn more about annual surveys and citations of nursing homes, visit the Illinois Dept. of Aging.

        For general survey information, visit: www.idph.state.il.

        To research specific facility surveys, visit: www.medicare.gov

        Clifford Horwitz
        AUTHOR

        Clifford Horwitz

        As Principal Partner and lead trial lawyer of Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, Cliff has devoted his entire career to achieving justice for those who have been victimized by corporate negligence. He has won numerous record-setting jury verdicts and settlements, as well as what was the largest personal injury verdict in Illinois for an individual.

        All stories by: Clifford Horwitz

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