Articles Posted in Illinois Nursing Home Care Act

Countryside Care Centre was a nursing home in Aurora, Ill., a suburb west of Chicago. On Dec. 31, 2011, Countryside Care, LLC transferred the nursing home and the operation of it to Symphony Countryside, LLC. All employees were terminated with Symphony, which then had sole discretion on rehiring.

The sale agreement stated that “[n]othing contained herein shall be construed as forming a joint venture or partnership between the parties hereto.” Symphony was authorized and licensed to run the nursing home starting in January 2012.

On April 16, 2014, Lillie Michelet was admitted to Presence Mercy Medical Center with shortness of breath and chest pains. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

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The plaintiff, Godfrey Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home, filed a complaint for services that was given to the defendant, John Toigo. At the time of the complaint, Toigo was a resident in this nursing home care facility. Through his son, Michael Toigo, he filed an answer and included affirmative defenses as to the nursing home’s lack of standing.

The court in Madison County, Ill., erred in entering a default judgment against Toigo on the nursing home’s oral motion for default. The court ruled that as the defendant was denied the opportunity to defend on the merits of his responsive pleadings and denied the opportunity to challenge the nursing home’s affidavit as to damages, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in denying Toigo’s pro se motion to vacate the default judgment.

Godfrey Healthcare served its motion to reconsider, a notice of hearing on Toigo’s former lawyer rather than on Toigo as required by the court order.

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Lillie Michelet was admitted to the Countryside Care Centre Nursing Home on April 21, 2014. She was discharged on June 21, 2014 with bed sores on various parts of her body. The bed sores allegedly caused sepsis, which was a cause of her death on June 29, 2014.

Michelet’s son, William Harris, as special administrator of her estate, brought a lawsuit against the various nursing home entities, including Countryside Care Centre Inc. and Countryside Care LLC (collectively, Countryside defendants), claiming negligence and violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act (210 ILCS 45/1-101 et seq.).

The trial judge granted summary judgment to the Countryside defendants because they sold Countryside Care Centre to Symphony Countryside LLC on Dec. 31, 2011 and thus had no ownership, operational interest, or financial interest of the facility during the time Michelet was a resident.

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Audrey Smith, 92, lived at Anna Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and suffered from dementia, hypertension and depression. Almost ten years after her admission, she was found in a pool of blood on the floor of her room. She had fallen and suffered a subdural hematoma with midline shift, a C6 fracture, and an orbital fracture.

After being treated at a nearby hospital, Smith was transferred to a different hospital where she died seven days later. She was survived by her five adult children.

The Smith family and Smith’s estate sued the nursing home and its management company claiming it chose not to provide trained health care staff, provided inadequate staffing and supervision and failed to adhere to professional standards and inadequate care plan.

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On March 1, 2013, Ann Sanders entered into a residence agreement with the defendant, Victory Centre of Melrose Park, SLF Inc., a licensed supportive living facility. Pursuant to an addendum to the residence agreement, the parties agreed that all claims arising out of that agreement, including those of malpractice, could not be brought in a court of law but would be submitted to binding arbitration.

Later, Sanders, who had diabetes, suffered a diabetic shock and lapsed into a diabetic coma. She was then taken to Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., where she died on May 21, 2013.

Exactly two years after her death, a lawsuit was filed against Victory Centre of Melrose Park, SLF Inc. alleging negligence and seeking damages in connection with her death. In the complaint, the plaintiff alleged that Sanders’s death was due to the negligence of the nursing home. The lawsuit sought compensation for wrongful death under that statute, the Rights of Married Persons Act (commonly known as the Family Expense Act) and the Survival Act.

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Livija Cruse, an 80-year-old woman who suffered from mild dementia, was admitted to Chicago’s GlenCrest Healthcare and Rehab Center after falling at her home. She was also immobile. Over an 8-week period, she developed a bed sore on her buttocks. Because of the bed sore, she underwent two debridements and nine months of at-home wound treatment care after her discharge from GlenCrest.

On behalf of Cruse, her attorney-in-fact sued the nursing home and the ownership entities claiming that these defendants chose not to prevent and treat the bed sore.  It was also maintained that the nursing home failed to keep her clean and dry, provide her with an appropriate mattress for her condition and place a cushion on her wheelchair. In addition, the lawsuit argued that the nursing home chose not to comply with a doctor’s order regarding her wheelchair.

The defendants countered these arguments that the facility had in fact provided the appropriate care. Before trial, the parties settled for $100,000.

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There has been a recent uptick in claims and lawsuits brought by nursing home and long-term residents, families and loved ones against nursing homes and their ownership for injuries to residents because of the way they are assisted or not assisted depending on a resident’s dietary needs.

For example, many residents on entry to a nursing home are carefully screened for falls, bed sores, medication and are otherwise admitted to a nursing home after a reasonably careful and prudent screening process.

However, in many cases, the issue of a resident’s disability may be relevant in how he or she is able to eat and digest food.

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Meadowbrook Manor Nursing Home invoked the Quality Assurance Act in a case i which Jannie Lindsey, as plenary guardian for 88-year-old Laura Lindsey, alleged that Lindsey was injured by a fall while she was a resident at Meadowbrook’s Naperville Nursing Home.

The Illinois Appellate Court was presented with a case of first impression under the Quality Assurance Act (Long-Term Care Peer Review and Quality Assessment and Assurance Protection Act; 745 ILCS 55/1 et seq.)

In this case, Meadowbrook Manor used a contempt sanction to question the validity of a discovery order that commanded it to handle (1) an internal report it prepared after Lindsey fell and (2) written statements from six witnesses.

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In an Illinois Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, the law would create a “resident’s representative” for Illinois nursing home residents.  The law would amend the Nursing Home Care Act, changing Section 1-123 (210 ILCS 45/1).

This law — should it be enacted — would allow a nursing home resident to choose someone to support the resident in decision-making, access medical, social, or other personal information of the resident, manage financial matters or receive notifications.

The law would also include the following:  (1) an individual chosen by the resident to act on behalf of the resident in order to support the resident in decision-making; access medical, social or other personal information of the resident; manage financial matters; or receive notifications; (2) a person authorized by state or federal law, including, but not limited to, agents under power of attorney, representative payees, and other fiduciaries, to act on behalf of the resident in order to support the resident in decision-making; access medical, social, or other personal information of the resident; manage financial matters; or receive notifications.  (3) a legal representative, as used in Section 712 of the federal Older Americans Act (42 U.S.C. 3058g); or (4) the court-appointed guardian or conservator of a resident. Nothing in this definition is intended to expand the scope of authority of any resident’s representative beyond that authority specifically authorized by the resident, state or federal law, or a court of competent jurisdiction.

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Arbitration clauses commanding arbitration in nursing home abuse and neglect cases have been the bane of many lawyers seeking to protect nursing home residents from abuse and injury. Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, arbitration clauses were considered to undermine the purpose of the act by making it mandatory for residents and their families to abide by a confusing nursing home contract on admission to a nursing home.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was intended to protect residents from exploitation by nursing homes and their parent corporations. It would seem to be against Illinois public policy for residents admitted to Illinois nursing homes to be compelled to sign a contract. In some cases, these contracts contained arbitration clauses that would essentially remove a common law lawsuit as an option should the resident be injured by neglect or abuse by a nursing home and its personnel.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a new rule that prohibited federal funds for nursing homes that enter into binding arbitration agreements with residents. However, in a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Mississippi, an order was entered that found that the CMS did not have authority to enact the mandate without statutory authority.

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