Chicago nursing home fined after residents overdose on heroin

Source: David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2016

State and federal health officials are seeking penalties totaling more than $100,000 from a North Side nursing home after five residents overdosed on heroin inside the facility in February, the Tribune has learned. The residents of Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center were hospitalized and recovered, but at least two used heroin again hours after they were returned to the facility, even though they were supposed to be on close watch, Illinois public health department inspectors allege. One of the two overdosed again. … Illinois law requires nursing homes to notify the Department of Public Health of unusual events that put patients at risk, but state officials said they learned of that case only when the Tribune filed a query about it. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has imposed civil monetary penalties totaling $76,000 for alleged violations in the February incident. Continental is contesting an additional $25,000 fine from the state public health department, which says the facility failed to properly monitor and treat residents with drug addictions. … Continental, which has housed a mix of older residents and younger adults with mental illness, did not admit deficiencies when it outlined corrective actions it would take — plans that were accepted by CMS in April. “The facility has ceased admitting any residents with active substance use,” its plan said. In a brief interview with the Tribune, Continental part-owner Moishe Gubin said he was not aware of any heroin overdoses or other problems at the facility. … Continental is part of a rapidly growing, South Bend, Ind.-based nursing home operation that includes more than 50 facilities in eight states, records show. Their 13 northern Illinois facilities include one that earned a top, five-star rating for overall quality from CMS. Four others, including Continental, were given a one-star quality rating, the lowest possible, and police and public health inspection records have alleged unsanitary conditions and negligent care at Continental and some other northern Illinois homes. Medicaid and Medicare last year paid those 13 facilities a total of roughly $150 million, and the facilities reported a combined 2015 profit of $6 million, according to cost reports filed with the state. Similar data was not available for a recently added 14th northern Illinois facility. …