Nursing Home Fined for Death of Wandering Resident

When placing a loved one in a nursing home, we expect our loved ones will be treated well. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes take proper care of their patients.

Nursing homes are covered by federal and state laws. The Nursing Home Reform Act is the main policy outlining federal nursing home laws. The act was implemented by the U.S. Congress in 1987. The Nursing Home Reform Act created guidelines for long-term care nursing homes that receive federal Medicaid and Medicare funding.

Federal nursing home laws under the Nursing Home Reform Act cover several facets of nursing home care, from resident rights to staffing and operational requirements. Under federal nursing home laws, the health and wellbeing of nursing home residents may not decline unless medically unavoidable.

Nursing homes in Illinois are licensed, regulated, inspected and certified by several public and private agencies at the state and federal levels, including the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

In Illinois you can find a list of Nursing Home violations at this Illinois government website. There was a recent case in central Illinois, where a nursing home was fined $32, 500 as a resident died while wandering outside on a very cold night.

State health officials originally fined Helia Healthcare of Champaign $50, 000 for failing to effectively monitor 89-year-old Annette White, who died on Dec. 30, 2017. The fine was reduced after Helia didn’t contest the violation and fine and waived its right to a hearing.

According to Bogdan Martinovich “Nursing homes are meant to be places where elderly and disabled people can go for skilled care and compassion. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents fall victim to abuse and negligence at the hands of their would-be caregivers. Due to physical and/or mental disabilities, nursing home residents are often vulnerable to mistreatment and are unable to protect or defend themselves. Family members must be on the lookout for signs of nursing home negligence or abuse and ready to take action when necessary.”

Today there are many devices nursing home facilities can use to keep their patients safe. These safety devices typically use wristbands and sensors on the building entrances and exits or GPS technology. These new technologies may be life savers but require more monitoring and resources from the nursing facilities. There may be false alarms where the resident is legitimately off campus, yet the system will think the resident is wandering. With proper setup and monitoring a good system will reduce the amount of wandering resident incidents.

There are many considerations for finding a safe nursing home for your loved one, besides the wandering resident issue. According to “While only 5% of the elderly population lives in nursing homes, 20% of elderly falls and accidents occur in them.”

Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is a very important decision. Investigate, visit and ask are the three things you need to do to find a caring and safe nursing home facility for your loved one. Investigate nursing homes with online tools like Nursing Home Compare on the Medicare website. Visit potential nursing homes, look for signs of care and neglect, and ask detailed questions about the facility, does it have an emergency plan, staff turnover, quality of care, etc. as suggested in this AARP article. And lastly ask your friends and relatives for recommendations.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.