State didn't investigate Illinois nursing home complaints for 3+ months

The Illinois Department of Public Health said it didn't investigate any neglect or abuse complaints at long-term facilities for more than three months, according to an Aug. 21 news release.

The agency said it had hired a consulting firm and a former federal prosecutor to conduct a "top to bottom" review of its Bureau of Long-Term Care after discovering that agency personnel hadn't investigated any abuse or neglect complaints received from mid-March until June 22. The agency is legally required to start an investigation within 24 hours for the most serious complaints.

IDPH has now investigated 272 allegations received during this period, according to the news release.

CMS had advised states to focus on infection control investigations amid the pandemic — which Illinois continued to do ― as well as serious abuse and neglect complaints, which officials acknowledged did not happen in a timely manner. 

The lapse in investigations was based on decisions made by a retired employee who had come back to help through June 5, in addition to two other employees who are no longer with the agency, a spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune. On July 20, the agency fired Debra Bryars, RN, IDPH deputy director and head of the Office of Health Care Regulation. Later, the agency placed Aimee Isham, who oversaw the Bureau of Long-Term Care, on indefinite paid leave, and Ms. Isham subsequently resigned. The agency would not comment further on the reasoning behind these moves, according to the Chicago Tribune.  

More articles on post-acute care:
Nursing home COVID-19 cases, deaths on the rise after decline
Minnesota nursing home sues woman for saying facility is trying to kill residents with COVID-19 testing
10+ states sending 'strike teams' to nursing homes

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