McHenry Nursing Home Hit With $360,000 In Fines

McHenry Nursing Home Hit With $360,000 In FinesThe Chicago Tribune reported that the Woodstock Residence received nearly $360,000 in fines related to five suspicious deaths at the facility.  The facility has been in the headlines in the past for the for intentionally giving high does of medication to elderly patients. Originally labelled an ‘angel of death’ for the staff’s sympathy towards suffering patients, new information has been released related to the intentional medication over-dosing at the facility in an Illinois Department of Public Health investigative report.

The report demonstrates that the staff at the Woodstock Residence intentionally drugged residents to turn them into unresponsive zombies and make the nurses jobs caring for them easier.  The report also shows a more malicious side to the nursing staff’s care.

“She won’t make it through the day,” Marty Himebaugh, 57, allegedly told a co-worker in reference to a restless patient, according to a 130-page IDPH report. “I made sure of that.”  Himebaugh, a licensed practical nurse at the Woodstock Residence, was fired Oct. 31, 2006, at the suggestion of Illinois State Police, who were investigating the suspicious deaths, the report stated.

The state report also refers to a man in his mid-50s with Down syndrome who died in April 2006, and it quotes Himebaugh as telling a co-worker: “Those people aren’t meant to live that long. They are meant to die in their teens and I’m going to help him along.”

In April Himebaugh and Penny Whitlock, the former director of nursing at the facility were charged criminally for the their behavior.  The two face a variety of charges including: endangering the lives of their residents, criminal neglect of a long-term care residents, obtaining morphine by fraud, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and obstruction of justice.  State prosecutors did not believe there was enough evidence to prove the nurses intended to kill the patients.  The duo await trial after pleading not guilty to the charges.

The Woodstock Residence was fined a record $300,000 by the state of Illinois and $57,350 by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  According to The Department of Public Health the most serious violations involved the use of “chemical restraints”—drugs used to sedate patients. State law prohibits using drugs to discipline nursing home residents or as a staff convenience.

Renamed the Crossroads Care Center of Woodstock in December and owned by a limited liability company of the same name, the nursing home is appealing the fines according to its attorney.  The nursing home also faces wrongful death lawsuits filed by the families of the deceased residents.

Medication overdoses are a common problem in nursing homes.  Generally thought to be a tragic mistake, this case should cause people to step back and evaluate is the overdosing is really an intentional act with a deadly intent.  Am I so skeptical to think that this is not an isolated incident.

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

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