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State agency to take action to revoke Hillcrest’s nursing home license

The Illinois Department of Public Health has taken action to revoke the license of a Joliet nursing home, where two suspicious deaths occurred within a six-month period.

Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for IDPH, said the state agency sent notification April 11 to the corporate headquarters of Hillcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which was also scheduled to lose Medicare certification April 1. The revocation is scheduled to go into effect 30 days after Hillcrest’s receipt of notification.

Staff at the nursing home on the 700 block of Draper Avenue discovered around 4 a.m. Jan. 23 an unresponsive resident sitting against a wall in her room with a coaxial cable wrapped around her throat and between her jaws, according to IDPH documents on its survey of the home after the incident.

Employees told IDPH investigators they had no idea how long the resident had been dead because the home’s hall monitors don’t check on residents in their rooms, the documents state.

The IDPH survey said that during that “egregious incident” a police officer noticed three burnt pipes associated with drug use in the resident’s room. Staff were unable to say how long the suspected drug paraphernalia had been in the room. 

Nursing home staff Aug. 21 found a 37-year-old resident dead of what the Will County coroner’s office later identified as anti-depressant intoxication from two of the four antidepressants she had been prescribed, according to another IDPH survey of the nursing home.

Her death came just seven weeks after she was transported, unconscious, to a hospital intensive care unit for what a hospital physician’s notes say was treatment of respiratory failure due to “narcotic overdose/opiate poisoning,” the agency survey states. 

The woman also was being prescribed Vicodin, a combination narcotic pain pill. The survey slammed the nursing home’s lack of paperwork regarding frequency and dosage. “Essentially, this made it impossible to check for accuracy of administration to (the resident),” it states. 

The IDPH also took note of slipshod inventory practices that could not account for unconsumed or destroyed Vicodin pills.

It also cited an employee’s description of the nursing home’s unorthodox method of destroying prescribed narcotics. “We put the medication in a small ‘sharps’ (syringes and blades) container, pour Coca-Cola over it to melt it down, and pour it down the toilet,” according to the agency document. 

A man who answered the phone at the nursing home May 3 said no one was available to respond to questions but took a phone number.

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