Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) June 22, 2018 – A nursing home in Champaign, Illinois was fined over the death of an elderly resident who was exposed to sub-zero temperatures after wandering outside the facility at night.
State officials fined Helia Healthcare $32,500 for safety violations and failure to effectively monitor the patient, 89-year-old Annette White. The nursing home originally received a $50,000 fine. However the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said the amount was lowered as Helia Healthcare did not contest the fine and waived its right to a hearing.
“Nursing homes have a duty to take proper care of their residents and ensure they remain safe from harm,” said Robert Briskman, a Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. "Unfortunately, not all facilities employ the requisite safety measures, failing to consistently monitor patient behavior until it is too late, as in this case.”
White died on December 30, 2017 after wandering outside when the temperature was 8 degrees below zero. IDPH found that she was dressed inadequately for the cold weather, wearing only a blouse, thin pants, socks and one shoe at the time of her death.
White suffered from severe cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease. She was also considered a high-risk patient who had a history of wandering. IDPH investigators said nurses found White lying flat on her back outside a kitchen door of the nursing home. They were unable to detect a pulse.
The incident report concluded that the nursing home failed in its duty to monitor White despite knowing about her mental condition and behavioral history. In the past, the nursing home had four other high-risk residents who were known to have exhibited similar wandering behavior.
According to nursing home employees, the kitchen’s three exterior doors did not have alarms. IDPH officials said Helia Healthcare has corrected various safety issues since White’s death.
“While nursing home accidents can and do occur, most are preventable,” said Briskman. “If your loved one has suffered neglect or abuse at a nursing home, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to learn about the steps that can be taken to hold the facility responsible.”
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