Trib looks into dangerous nursing home residents

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Chicago Tribune‘s Gary Marx and David Jackson examined the effectiveness of Illinois regulations implemented in 2006 to protect nursing home residents from potentially dangerous peers. They’ve pulled together some alarming anecdotes and data that show the law is not as effective as hoped.

For example, the reporters focus on the man with a criminal record who attacked by another resident with an ice pick. Just a year after the attack, he ended up in the same facility as his victim again. This time, he slashed him with a box cutter. Obviously, there was a hole somewhere in the new system. Marx and Jackson lay out the facts:

With growing numbers of mentally ill felons entering Illinois nursing homes, the state in 2006 became the first to require criminal background checks as part of an overall risk assessment of new residents. The screenings by state contractors are used to identify high-risk individuals who should live in private rooms and be closely monitored.

But a review of confidential reports in 45 recent cases shows that in many instances the assessments were incomplete, leaving out some criminal convictions and other crucial details.

The project includes a searchable database of safety reports on nursing homes in Illinois, including information not searchable on government sites. Readers can use the database to find out the number of residents at a facility who are convicted felons and sex offenders, crimes reported at Chicago nursing homes and fines levied because of deficiencies in care. Head over to the investigation’s homepage to follow the story and its results.

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