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Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Isn't Sole Domain of the Elderly

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Chicago, ILWhen debating the subject of nursing homes, the assumption is that we are talking about the elderly. But that's not always the case. There are other nursing home facilities providing care for children with developmental disabilities, for example. And akin to nursing homes serving seniors, these nursing homes in Illinois caring for children have also been accused of Illinois nursing home abuse.

One particular offender, according to a recent investigation by the Chicago Tribune, is now known as Alden Village North, but has been known under different names when connected to varied owners over the years. Regardless of name or ownership structure, however, the fact remains that 13 children have died at the nursing home in the last 10 years.

The Tribune, in its October 10th edition, cited various problems at the root of those deaths—staffing shortages at the facility, together with a lax regulatory framework utilized in for-profit facilities such as Alden.

Whatever the reasons, the tragedies remain.

Deaths include two 4 year olds who died within three weeks of one another after experiencing difficulty breathing. While alarms were in use to alert nursing staff, no one heard them. State investigators later determined that numerous alarms had not been set correctly, or the volume turned down so low, they could not be heard.

Illinois nursing home neglect, in this case, goes beyond the tragic finality of death. According to the Tribune investigation, illnesses have been ignored, life-support alarms have gone unanswered and residents with complex medical problems have been left unattended. Even basic hygiene, such as bathing children and changing diapers, has been neglected. Staff shortages have been cited. Former employees say that when workers book off sick, they are not replaced for the day. Remaining staff was allegedly required to pick up the slack, and was run ragged as a result.

The investigation found that in 2008 five children and young adults died within three months of each other. And yet Alden was found to have not thoroughly investigated the deaths. It appears that regulations do not require them to do so.

It should be noted that the Illinois Department of Health has issued fines totaling $190,000 against the facility over the past ten years. However, the Illinois nursing home has paid only $21,450 of that amount since 2000.

The Tribune reported that the parents of five children who died at the facility were not aware until contacted for the Tribune investigation that the home had been cited in the deaths.

The mother of one of the children who died has brought a wrongful death suit against the facility. Her son Derrick Black, then 12, died at Alden when he was left unmonitored—allegedly the result of his night nurse leaving early and his day nurse arriving late. The investigation also showed that a number of critical errors were committed.

On the day the boy died, he was being fed through a tube when a nurse's aide arrived to bathe him in bed. The bed was prepared flat, even though medical orders stipulated that he remain upright during feedings. The aide is also reported to have disconnected, then re-connected, the feeding tube in order to dress the boy—this in spite of medical protocol requiring that a nurse perform that task, not an aide.

The aide reportedly lifted Derrick into his wheelchair, in spite of a requirement in the boy's medical file that two people lift him to avoid accidents. The aide indicated there was no one around to assist him.

Derrick was no sooner in his wheelchair that he began coughing fluids from his mouth and breathing tube. His night nurse was notified and told investigators she suctioned the secretions before she left (allegedly leaving work early), even though there was no documentation that the suctioning was performed in her nursing notes.

Derrick was without nursing care from 7:15 am, when the night nurse left, to 7:29 am, when the day nurse arrived, reportedly late.

At 7:30 am, another nurse found Derrick with what was described as an unusually large amount of secretions down the front of his shirt, and he was not responding. Nurses and paramedics could not revive him.

The state of Illinois hit Alden with a $25,000 fine for Illinois nursing home neglect. Alden is contesting the fine. Stephanie Black filed her lawsuit against Alden for wrongful death in August, under Illinois nursing home law.

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READER COMMENTS


Posted by

on
I am the friend that William is talking about.I had worked at Alden Village and seen how the nursing staff,not CNA's have treated the children and adults.I was assigned to a patient that was a threat to newcomers. When I went to bathe him I needed help putting him in his wheelchair.I could not find a nurse or another cna to help me. This person grabbed me by the throat and practically choked me.When I managed to get help the others just laughed at me and walked away.I would help everyone,but when I needed help there was nobody to be found or I would be told to figure it out myself. I came down with pnuemonia was off for two weeks,went back to work,came down with it two days later,was put on medication,got better,came down with it again had trouble breathing went to the doctor and was told to resign and go else where.That night as I was giving a toddler a bath ,I suffered my stroke.I went home,noticed the sympthoms and was taken to the hospital where they confirmed the stroke.I lost the usage of my left leg and arm.I am very weak,tire easily and get short of breath if I lift over two pounds and my legs give out.I have also suffered seizures.I had no medical problems until I started working at Alden Village.I have lost my husband to cancer . I quit my job to care for him,promised to go to school to become a CNA and then a nurse.I kept that promise to him.I went to school ,became a CNA and got my license.Now my dream is ruined and I can't do what I wanted,by caring for the sick and needy.I am now permanently disabled.

Posted by

on
A friend of mine worked at Alden Village as a C.N.A. and came down with three bouts of pneumonia and then suffered a stroke. She suffered the stroke a day after she resigned from Alden Village on the advice of her Doctor. There were a number of people that fell ill at Alden Village. She can vouch for the lack of help and how she was treated there. When she needed help lifting patients there was no one to be found. My friend was only 52 at the time she worked there. Right now she pretty much has permanent lower back damage and is losing the ability to walk. Prior to working at Alden Village, she was perfectly fine. I would like to add that since working at Alden Village, suffering the three bouts of pneumonia and having the stroke; she now has trouble breathing, gets easily winded, uses an inhaler and has no upper body strength either. She is currently on Social Security Disability and is about to lose her home due to lack of income. On another note, the county is behind in sending her Medical cards out and she is on numerous prescriptions now and does not have the money to pick them up.

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