The state of Illinois has initiated the revocation of Hillcrest Healthcare Center’s nursing home license for a long history of elder abuse. The most recent allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect at this Joliet nursing home are yet another example of the quickly growing epidemic of elder abuse. Ironically, these allegations surfaced during National Nursing Home Week, which celebrates the admirable lives and work of nursing home residents and staff. Our Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys have extensive experience obtaining the maximum compensation elder abuse victims deserve.
Allegations arose that a younger male Hillcrest resident abused over 20 other residents. The alleged abuse was mental, physical, and sexual, and occurred over an extended period of time. The abuse consisted of abusive language, inappropriate sexual behavior, and threats of physical violence. These allegations are a prime example of the different types of abuse that so frequently occur in nursing homes. While physical and sexual abuse often leave tangible evidence, mental abuse is more difficult to discover and eventually prove it in a court of law. As a result, allegations of mental abuse have only begun to surface in recent years as a result of awareness campaigns.
The alleged abuse here was reported shortly after an incident where an elderly patient was given an excessive dose of anti-seizure medicine, requiring immediate medical attention and hospitalization. The nursing home is facing impending litigation for that instance as well as the more recent allegations of abuse. These lawsuits, accompanied by many others in Hillcrest’s history, cast an ominous cloud of the legitimacy of this nursing home.
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Multiple violations of the Illinois Department of Public Health over a ten year period, combined with many lawsuits being filed and won against Hillcrest eventually resulted in the revocation of the home’s license. This particular case is slightly less typical in that the allegations that culminated in the license revocation are not that the Hillcrest staff that perpetrated the abuse, but rather a resident of the home did. However, this does not absolve the home of liability because all nursing homes have a duty to ensure the safety of its residents. Hillcrest’s complete record strongly suggests that it has failed to satisfy this duty, thus creating liability.
In one last effort to keep the nursing home open, the Mayor of Joliet urged the Illinois Department of Public Health to inspect it one final time before closing the institution. He justified his desire to keep the home open as an effort to maintain the jobs of the home’s employees. While that is an important consideration, Hillcrest’s record establishes that they have been given ample chances to remedy their violations and has failed to do so.
Regardless of the Mayor’s personal or political rationale behind attempting to keep Hillcrest open, his efforts highlight the importance of government taking an active role in the inspection of nursing homes. Unfortunately, state and municipal governments simply rely on the court system to ensure nursing homes are abiding by the relevant regulations. However, it is a mistake to assume that damage awards create a deterrent large enough to prevent any further abuse in that specific nursing home. The inadequacy of the courts to prevent future abuse is evidenced by Hillcrest, which continued to face abuse allegations for years.
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To truly combat nursing home abuse, governments must bolster the court’s efforts by uniformly legislating and enforcing stricter regulations. An integral aspect of enforcement is the increased inspection of nursing homes, especially ones that are funded by the state. Until further measures are taken, the elevated incidence of nursing home abuse will continue. It is important to immediately contact an elder law attorney if you suspect such abuse to yourself or a loved one.