CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign nursing home fined earlier this year for a resident's death has been hit with another $75,000 in penalties following the deaths of two other residents.
According to the state, a resident at Helia Healthcare died in March after a mechanical lift sling failed twice on separate occasions. For this, Helia received the Illinois Department of Public Health's strongest class AA violation, carrying a $50,000 fine.
In another case, the nursing home at 1915 S. Mattis Ave., C., received a class A violation with a $25,000 fine for allowing a resident who had difficulty swallowing to eat without supervision. That resident choked in February and was taken to a hospital where he died, according to the state.
Helia, which could not be reached for comment, didn't contest the violations and waived its right to a hearing in both cases, said Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the state health department. In exchange, it received a 35 percent reduction, so it paid a total of $48,750.
In the class AA violation, the resident sustained a hemorrhage in the brain after falling, was hospitalized and eventually died March 18 after being transferred to another long-term care facility.
"This failure had the potential to affect 17 additional residents ... who shared the same supply of poorly maintained mechanical lift slings," the state health department wrote.
Mechanical lift slings are used to transfer patients from beds to chairs, for example, and in this case on Feb. 23, the loop on the sling tore, "allowing resident to slip out of sling onto the floor," according to state documents.
Earlier that month, the same resident fell in a similar incident when a "sling loop snapped off because it was frayed," sending the resident to the hospital.
"We had a limited number of slings so I left the frayed sling (#3) in the (R1's) room," an unidentified worker told investigators. While that person reported to supervisors that the sling strap broke, that person said, "I feel bad for leaving the sling in (R1's) room. I know I shouldn't have."
Investigators say this first fall was never investigated or fixed.
In the class A violation, a resident with tongue cancer "was eating dinner in his room with his mother" on Feb. 7, according to the state's report. The mother called for a nurse, who was unaware that the resident was supposed to have supervision while eating.
The resident was moved onto his side and began breathing irregularly. After being taken to a hospital, he died the next day, the state report said.
The mother also said she was unaware that her son needed staff supervision while eating.
Helia, which has a one-star rating from Medicare, was fined $50,000 earlier this year in connection with the Dec. 30, 2017, death of a resident who wandered outside during a cold night.
That was also a class AA violation, which Helia didn't contest and then had to pay $32,500.
In that case, 89-year-old Annette White, who had Alzheimer's disease, died after apparently wandering outside alone in thin pants, a blouse, socks and one shoe on a night when the temperature had dropped to 8 degrees below zero.
She was found by staff lying flat on her back without a pulse and ice-cold.
An IDPH report concluded the nursing home failed to effectively monitor Ms. White.
The latest violations were made public Wednesday in the IDPH's report of nursing home violations for the second quarter of 2018.
Country Health in Gifford, which has a five-start Medicare rating, also received a class A violation carrying a $25,000 fine for failing to tell a resident's doctor about a "significant weight gain."
Country Health could not be reached for comment.