Answers sought after 78-year-old found dead in nursing home courtyard

Answers sought after 78-year-old found dead in nursing home courtyard

URBANA — The death last weekend of a memory-care patient at the Champaign County Nursing Home is being investigated by the county coroner's office and the Illinois State Police.

A 78-year-old woman who had been a long-term resident of the home was found in an outdoor courtyard of the facility Saturday afternoon when the high temperature in Champaign-Urbana reached 87 degrees. Coroner Duane Northrup said the nursing home resident may have been outside in the enclosed area of the facility for as long as three hours.

"We know when she went out there at one point, but we don't know if she came back anytime during that. We don't know if she was in and out that day or out there the whole time until she was found," Northrup said. "Right now, we're saying that it's still under investigation based on the circumstances of how and where she was found."

So far, the coroner said, the cause of death is undetermined.

"She had collapsed outside, and they had found her unresponsive and deceased. We responded and did an investigation and an autopsy, and I'm waiting on the final results on that now," he said. "So far, from what I know, it appears to be natural causes, but we're still waiting to get results."

The examination of the deceased was performed Tuesday.

"She was lying on the sidewalk partially. She had no trauma, no head injury or anything like that," Northrup said. "Whether it was heat-related, that's one of the things we're looking at."

But that may be difficult to determine, he said.

"When she was found, she was already warm because she was in the sun. When she died, her temperature rose because she was already in the sun," he said. "The pathologist said he most likely can't call it heat stroke because of that, but we're still looking into whether there are any other signs that it might be related to heat exhaustion."

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said she was made aware of the incident and called it "an ongoing investigation. I became aware of it and referred it to the sheriff's department and the state police."

Sheriff Dan Walsh said he has turned the matter over to the state police for investigation.

County Administrator Rick Snider on Friday released a statement about the death on behalf of the county government.

"All of us at Champaign County are devastated by the loss of one of our residents. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have lost someone dear to them," he said. "The matter is currently under investigation, and Champaign County Nursing Home is cooperating with all investigating agencies and are also cooperating in all ongoing investigations and will continue to do so. There will be no further comment at this time."

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787 wrote on June 17, 2017 at 8:06 am

Hasn't the answer already been delivered to the Champaign County Board, in a county-wide vote to SELL the County Nursing Home?

I do realize that this cannot be accomplished overnight, but it is time for a few democrat holdouts to stop delaying due to their own personal reasons, and start moving towards that goal.


Citizen1 wrote on June 17, 2017 at 9:06 am

Stop stalling.  Enough already.  Sell it.