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Efforts Continue to Prevent Chicago Nursing Home Assaults

Problems with assault within nursing facilities are more common than most people prefer to believe.

Nursing home abuse or neglect can take many forms, of course. One is failing to properly monitor residents so that they fall - and break bones or suffer even worse damage.

Another is failing to administer needed medication properly, sometimes because of prescription errors. These errors can do grievous harm or even bring about premature death.

In terms of the sheer terror it causes nursing home residents, however, assault is in a class by itself. When a nursing home allows assaults on residents to occur - either by staff members or by other residents - it needs to be held accountable.

But in a current Chicago case, state regulators are finding that accountability can be difficult to achieve.

Two years ago, allegations surfaced of a disturbing pattern of patient-on-patient violence at the Rainbow Beach Care Center, a 200-bed facility on the South Side. It offers housing and treatment for indigent adults with mental health and disability issues.

The facility's problem with assault came to light through police reports and inspections by the state health department. Chicago police statistics indicate that there have been seven allegations involving criminal sexual assault or sexual abuse since 2008. That is more than for any other Chicago nursing home.

The state attempted to revoke the facility's license and arranged for the placement of two safety monitors within the facility.

Rainbow Beach contested the presence of the monitors and recently obtained a court order to have them temporarily removed.

The health department says it is not giving up, despite the temporary setback. A spokeswoman said the department is committed to stopping unsafe nursing homes from operating.

Source: "Beleaguered nursing home manages to expel 2 state monitors," David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, 4-16-12

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