In March, an 85-year-old woman was found dead, strapped into her wheelchair at the bottom of a staircase at a southwestern Illinois nursing home. Her body was retrieved by a funeral home located an hour away from the facility, according to The Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Blog.
In addition to the injuries she sustained during the fall, the victim’s families noted signs of abuse—bruises, cuts and stitches on various parts of the body. The situation escalated because the funeral home, not the facility, had questions about completing the death certificate and notified authorities of the accident. Consequently, the county medical examiner picked up the woman’s body.
The fall occurred at Midwest, one of a group of facilities owned by Senior Healthcare Management of Skokie, Ill. This facility and nine others owned by the company received one star out of five on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) Nursing Home Compare ratings. CMS also noted that the facility where the death occurred was cited for 36 deficiencies.
The Illinois Department of Health is sent an investigator to Midwest to assess the incident and to ensure the safety of its residents. Authorities conducted a criminal investigation and after reviewing surveillance tapes “found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing” and that injuries were consistent with a fall.
The blog urges consumers to research a nursing home and “understand its history of deficiencies, using resources such as Nursing Home Compare online. And for those experiencing such events as the one at Midwest, victims or their families may have recourse through civil lawsuit, even if there is no finding of criminal liability.”