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What Is It Like To Live In A 1-Starred Nursing Home?

Well, according to the investigative article by Sam Roe in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune– pretty miserable.  Roe’s article details Berwyn Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in the Chicago-area, that received one-star in every major category according to the Medicare rating system.  The article demonstrates that although nursing homes must meet certain criteria set by the federal government, some nursing homes are doing little more than absolutely necessary to remain eligible for federal funds.

Since December, the federal government has begun posting on-line ratings on all nursing homes.  Nursing homes receive a star rating in four categories on a scale of one to five, including overall quality according to information obtained via inspections and from the operators of the nursing homes.

The Medicare rating system of rating nursing homes has been criticized by the nursing home as being superficial and arbitrary because Medicare does not disclose its formula used to calculate the ratings.  Nonetheless, information obtained via a Freedom of Information Act verifies the dismal living conditions at Berwyn Rehabilitation Center.

What Is It Like To Live In A 1-Starred Nursing Home?A recent state inspection of the Berwyn nursing home resulted in 29 violations relating to resident safety and care.  The nursing home inspectors documented clear instances of nursing home abuse and neglect.  Among the more disturbing findings:

  • Bedsores on the buttocks of incontinent residents
  • Unexplained bruising on the arms and legs of residents
  • Staff allowing residents to sit in their own feces for hours on end
  • Staff failing to administer medication to control residents’ pain
  • Staff failing to clean catheter tubing
  • Staff failing to change dressings on wounds resulting in rapid development of pressure sores
  • The inappropriate use of bed rails–using bed rails that did not fit on the bed and with residents that had no orders for their use

“This nursing home was really bad,” according to Anjanette Miller, the new director of nursing at the Berwyn facility.  Miller cites staffing problems as a contributing factor in the poor care.  Workers “were punching in and doing nothing,” she added.  In an effort to turn things around the facility has fired the bad workers and has been under new management.

Nonetheless, problems at Berwyn Rehabilitation Center persist.  In May, a resident became trapped between his inflatable mattress and the side rails of his bed.  A Cook County medical examiner concluded he suffocated due to entrapment.  An investigation into his death revealed the facility was using improperly fitted rails that were arbitrarily replaced by a nursing home employee shortly before his death.

Clearly, this nursing home needs a lot more change.

For more information on nursing homes in Chicago look here. For laws related to Illinois nursing homes, look here.

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