State clears county nursing home after investigation
SPRINGFIELD — State public health investigators have found no deficiencies at the Champaign County Nursing Home after being called to look into an unusual number of deaths this winter.
"There were no findings and no citations were issued," Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health, said Friday. "We didn't find any violations of the Nursing Home Care Act."
Public health investigators already were at the facility two weeks ago when they were alerted to a News-Gazette story about an increase in deaths at the nursing home since Dec. 1. Initially, the manager of the nursing home had said that there had been 60 deaths at the county-owned facility since Dec. 1, a figure later revised to 42.
Before December, the nursing home had averaged 5.3 deaths per month in 2012, nursing home manager Scott Gima told the county's nursing home board.
Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup, who by law reviews every nursing home death, verified the smaller number.
Northrup said 42 deaths occured at the facility between Dec. 1 and March 11, but that 20 were hospice patients and 20 more were people 90 years old or older.
"At this point after looking at the numbers, I'm not concerned that there are a larger number of deaths at the Champaign County Nursing Home, based off the information I've seen," Northrup said at the time. "It seems to be fairly well explained in comparison to what is going on."
He said he reviewed the dates and times of death for the nursing home fatalities.
"I went to see if we had three deaths on the same shift or four deaths in a certain period and it seems to me that they were pretty well consistently spaced out over the last two or three months," he said. "Just looking at the numbers and what I know, I don't see anything on the face of it that says I should be overly concerned about anything at the nursing home."
He also said there were no unusual circumstances "that really piqued us and said, 'Hey, we need to go look at this death' or anything. There were all kinds of different causes of death. It was all over the board."
Northrup also said there had been a spike in deaths throughout the county this winter, not only at the nursing home.
Normally there are 120 to 140 deaths per month in the county. But there were about 175 deaths in December and 181 in January, he said. February deaths also were above normal, he said.
Meanwhile, Arnold said she could not say whether the department found any deficiencies at the nursing home related to the agency's original investigation of the facility.