Illinois Nursing Home That Turned ‘Blind Eye’ To Sexual Assaults Now Faces Fines

Picture-261The LaSalle County Nursing Home is a medium-sized 99 bed nursing home facility in Ottawa, Illinois.  On June 6, 2009, the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) released a report following an investigation, revealing that a male resident at LaSalle County had molested ten female residents.

LaSalle County now faces fines from authorities.  The IDPH recommended to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) that LaSalle County pays $20,000 plus $100 per day that the facility is not in substantial compliance.  The IDPH is also considering fining the nursing home facility.

According to the government’s Medicare website, the facility received only two out of five stars, which is a below average rating, receiving three out of five stars for health inspections and one out of five stars for nursing home staffing.  In the past year, the nursing home had ten health deficiencies, which is two more than the average number of health deficiencies in Illinois and in the United States.  The number of health deficiencies has increased over the past two years.

The IDPH’s report revealed that a male resident targeted female dementia patients and other female residents in order to perform sexual acts.  On ten different occasions, the male resident succeeded in molesting female residents, without proper action being taken by nursing home officials.  LaSalle County failed to comply with six state requirements including failing to protect current residents and failing to administer the facility to prevent repeated occurrences of sexual abuse.  The unidentified sexually abusive resident has now been removed from the facility.

The IDPH’s report revealed that the facility failed to protect and provide interventions for ten residents who were sexually abused from January 17, 2009 through May 26, 2009.  These failures resulted in placing the entire nursing home population at Immediate Jeopardy.  Nursing home facility had noticed questionable behavior by the resident including touching female residents, kissing female residents, getting angry at nursing home staff for watching him, exposing himself, and inappropriate language.

The nurses were told to watch the resident in question and were instructed to remove female residents from his attention.  Many of the female residents who were targeted by the male resident suffered from dementia and did not understand what was happening.  Several of the victims were also non-verbal, unable to say anything about the abuse.

LaSalle County Nursing Home is required by the State to ensure that all alleged violations involving mistreatment, neglect, or abuse are reported immediately to the administrator of the facility and to other officials in accordance with State law.  The facility must have evidence that all alleged violations are thoroughly investigated, and must prevent further potential abuse while the investigation is in progress.  This LaSalle County facility did not meet this requirement because it failed to conduct investigations for fourteen reports of sexual assault by one male resident on female residents.

The facility also failed to follow its Abuse Policies and Procedures by failing to recognize an abusive situation, failed to train staff, failed to protect victims, and failed to thoroughly investigate allegations of abuse for ten residents.  The facility also failed to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident for each of the ten sexual abuse victims.

Nursing home residents, especially those who are weak or suffering from illnesses such as dementia, are susceptible to many forms of abuse, including abuse by fellow residents.  The nursing homes are charged with ensuring the highest physical and mental health of its residents, which includes preventing and reporting any signs of abuse, including sexual abuse.

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