Nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers warn that wrongdoing is once again being exposed at Lexington Health Care of Orland Park, Illinois. In 2011, a Lexington employee was charged with sexually assaulting a resident after a co-worker caught him in the act. The whistleblower is now suing Lexington for wrongful termination.
The man accused of assaulting a Lexington resident was Robert Phelan, who was arrested and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault in 2011. The investigation began after a co-worker saw and reported inappropriate contacts between Phelan and a 93-year-old Dementia patient. The case involved witness testimonies and a sexual assault examination from a local hospital. If convicted, Phelan could face up to 30 years in prison.
The supervisor who reported the assaults was terminated in 2012. She believes that she was fired for exposing Phelan’s criminal acts, and in now suing Lexington Health Care for wrongful termination.
These are not the first reports of wrongdoing on the part of Lexington. The facility was subject to Illinois Health Department investigations in December of 2010 and April of 2011. The investigations revealed serious deficiencies, including numerous reports of residents with suspicious bruises. One 87-year-old female resident had four troubling bruises, on her face, left cheek, breast, and thigh. According to the report, the resident was unable to describe the events resulting in the bruising and was unable to communicate feelings of pain. Inability or reluctance to speak about abuse and neglect is a major sign of criminal actions.
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The investigations revealed that Lexington failed to both contain a scabies outbreak and report it to the local health department. Staff did not adequately wash infected bed linens or apply medical creams to affected residents. There was also an extreme failure by staff to acknowledge and treat advanced stage bed sores. One resident reportedly suffered from two open sores and screamed to the investigators that he was in pain while the nurse ignored him. The resident’s open sores were the size of a silver dollar and a quarter. Among the most troubling Lexington complaints included a level four failure to write and use policies that forbid mistreatment, neglect, and abuse of residents. Level four violations are the highest possible, indicating immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of residents.
Other violations included frequently and knowingly mixing wrong medications and several incidents of unmonitored and life-threatening falls. The facility was last inspected in March of 2012, during which six health deficiencies were reported. The most recent report revealed that Lexington failed to ensure that the resident environment was free of potential hazards. Inspectors found an unattended cart left open with tools and chemicals fully exposed. A medication cart was also left unattended with the top drawer fully open. The facility currently has 2 out of 5 stars in an overall Medicare rating.
Low Medicare scores are a significant indication that abuse and neglect may be occurring in those facilities. Another Illinois nursing home, the Care Center of Abingdon, recently received a one star rating, mostly attributed to lack of quality and staffing levels. Medicare reports indicate that the facility failed to hire workers with no history of abuse and failed to investigate reported abuse and neglect. Abingdon also failed to adequately administer medication, hydrate residents, and properly prevent and treat bed sores.
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Nursing homes are entrusted with the incredible responsibility of caring for our vulnerable loved ones. Facilities like Lexington of Orland Park and Care Center of Abingdon must be held to higher standards. Senior abuse and neglect lawyers at Pintas & Mullins will continue to report on any suspicious activities. Nursing home deficiencies pose an immense threat to the safety and wellbeing of our nation’s seniors, and all suspicious activities should be reported and thoroughly investigated in order to prevent such actions from reoccurring.