Families rely on nursing homes to care for, protect, and supervise their loved ones after they reach a point in their lives where they can no longer care for themselves. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes in Illinois provide their residents with the quality care they deserve. Instead, many nursing home residents are being abused, neglected, ignored, and/or subjected to live under conditions that fall far below state and federal standards.
Did you know that approximately five million elders are abused each year, some of which who live in nursing homes or other types of long-term care facilities [Source: National Council on Aging]?
When an Illinois nursing home resident becomes a victim of abuse and/or neglect, they or a family member are encouraged to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) which is then expected to conduct an investigation into the claim to determine if it can be substantiated. Sometimes, during these inspections, additional issues are uncovered which may result in the agency completing a full on-site inspection.
Now, residents and families of nursing homes residents need to understand that by law, the agency is required to conduct an investigation into any complaint it receives. With that said, it has recently been brought to the public’s attention that all of the abuse and neglect complaints that were filed between mid-March and June 22nd were not being investigated. The Chicago Tribune says that administrators discovered this July 8th.
Apparently, the Illinois Department of Public Health had hired a consulting firm and a former federal prosecutor to conduct a “top to bottom” outside review of its Bureau of Long-Term Care, cites the news source. The bureau “oversees regulation of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.” Months into the pandemic, top administrators discovered that the agency was not investigating any of the complaints it had received.
While the more serious complaints require that an investigation is conducted within 24 hours once it is received, others that are less serious require that an investigation begins within seven days. Those that are considered to be less serious in nature must be investigated within 30 days. Although the agency continued to investigate concerns stemming from infection control, it failed to address complaints of abuse and neglect which were, and still are, a very big concern during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How did this oversight happen?
According to an agency spokeswoman, the lapse in investigations was “based on decisions made by a retired employee who had come back to help out through June 5th.” The spokeswoman also attributes the oversight to decisions made by Debra Bryars, who was an agency deputy director, and Aimee Isham, who oversaw the Bureau of Long-Term Care. While the agency fired Bryars, officials decided to place Isham on indefinite paid leave.
The source says she later resigned.
IDPH Resumes with Investigations
After the oversight was discovered, the IDPH began investigating the complaints that were left unaddressed. Agency officials announced that they have already investigated 272 allegations they received during mid-March and June 22nd, and only found 17 to contain “factual circumstances.” IDPH also announced that Manatt Health Strategies will conduct “a top-to-bottom review of the bureau that oversees long-term care facilities, with a focus on recommending best practices to ensure proper licensure and oversight activities.”
Although the agency has begun to correct the errors that were made, many other organizations shared their disconcert for the oversight that left many vulnerable aging individuals at-risk. AARP Illinois was one of those organizations. After IDPH announced that it would be conducting a thorough investigation into the bureau, Bob Gallo, the director of AARP Illinois had this to say, “On behalf of family caregivers, the lack of transparency displayed here is unacceptable and heartbreaking for families across Illinois. We respect the investigation, but the department’s failure to protect the health and safety of Illinois’ most vulnerable population is inexcusable and has gone on for far too long.”
Did you recently file an abuse or neglect complaint with IDPH that was ignored or dismissed without any action being taken?
If you believe your complaint was not properly handled, the Chicago, IL nursing home abuse lawyers at Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. may be able to assist with your issue. If you believe your loved one was a victim of abuse or neglect, our attorneys can help you in getting the facility and/or nursing home workers recognized for their failure to provide your loved one with the care and respect they deserve. To learn more about the services our Chicago, IL nursing home abuse law firm offers and how we can help you address your concerns, contact us now at 1-312-384-1920.
You can contact Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. at:
221 North La Salle Drive, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601