Safe Staffing Delayed

Lack of Enforcement

WBEZ reported that, despite the nursing home industry doing a horrible job during the deadly pandemic, Illinois continues to delay enforcing safe staffing minimums. A 2010 law established minimum hours of direct daily care for residents. The industry ignored the law or falsified staffing numbers. A 2018 report by AARP ranked Illinois among the worst states for nursing-home understaffing.

A 2019 law requires state regulators to gather Medicaid payroll and patient data and calculate whether the facility met the staffing minimums. Besides facing fines, the law requires each short-staffed nursing home to post notices about the violation. AARP have also argued that the state should link any further funding increases for nursing homes to transparency about their profits.

The most effective way to prevent abuse and neglect is safe staffing.  The best way is to increase staffing by providing a living wage.  Minimum wage will increase to $15 in July.

COVID and Staffing

Nursing-home residents in Illinois are now contracting COVID-19 and dying from it at their highest reported rates. Sepsis is a deadly bacterial infection that results from neglect in understaffed facilities. COVID is similar.

Nursing homes in Illinois with lower staffing have higher COVID-19 infection and death rates, according to a WBEZ investigation published last month. The investigation also found that the staffing coverage was generally worse in for-profit facilities than in nonprofits. This is consistent with my 25 years of suing nursing homes for neglect and abuse.

Incredibly, national for-profit chains defend business structures that hide their profits to avoid accountability. They admit that shell companies are necessary to protect assets from valid lawsuits caused by short-staffing.  Short-staffing negatively affects the quality of care in the facilities.