Chicago Nursing Home Fined After 5 Residents Overdose

Chicago Nursing Home Fined After 5 Residents Overdose

By Victoria Kim 11/16/16

The staff repeatedly overlooked signs of illegal substance use among residents, according to a state inspection report.  

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Chicago Nursing Home Fined After 5 Residents Overdose

A Chicago nursing home is in trouble with state and federal authorities for failing to address heroin use among residents—which culminated in five overdoses in February.

The Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in the North Side of Chicago is home to both the elderly and younger adults with mental illness, according to the Chicago Tribune. The 208-bed facility has been fined more than $100,000 for failing to properly monitor residents’ drug use. 

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, five residents were hospitalized in February after overdosing on heroin inside the nursing home. Hours after they were released, at least two of the residents used again, and one person overdosed a second time.

A state public health inspection report discovered that on the day of the overdoses, staff had suspected that a female visitor was supplying residents with the drugs, yet did nothing about it. One 33-year-old resident who overdosed described snorting “white powder in a small zippered baggie” that he had purchased from the visitor. He recalled blacking out until he “woke up and saw the paramedics standing over me.”

Another resident who overdosed recalled paying $25 for the heroin. The man told the female visitor that if the drugs were "good" he could triple her sales "in three days at the facility," according to the state inspection report.

Apparently it wasn’t the first time the nursing home overlooked signs of illegal substance use among residents. According to the Tribune, another individual overdosed in September 2015. And the following month, in October, the staff uncovered drug paraphernalia that indicated heroin use in residents’ rooms. They turned it over to police but judging by February’s overdoses, they did not use the opportunity to keep a closer eye on residents.

Issues about overmedicating and overdoses inevitably crop up in nursing home environments, as most elderly people become increasingly reliant on prescription drugs for everything from Alzheimer’s to high blood pressure. 

Intentionally using illegal narcotics isn’t as widely reported, however. Another recent case involves a 64-year-old resident of the Golden Living Center nursing home in LaPorte, Indiana, who overdosed on heroin after receiving the drug from a relative of another resident. The woman was found on the floor, bleeding from her nose. She was hospitalized and transported to a treatment facility afterwards.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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