A month after firing the state’s top nursing home regulator without explanation and disciplining another, the Illinois Department of Public Health acknowledged Friday that the agency did not properly process or investigate complaints of neglect and abuse for 3 1/4 u00bd months during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a news release, the agency said it hired a consulting firm and a former federal prosecutor to conduct a “top to bottom” outside review of its Bureau of Long-Term Care. The bureau oversees regulation of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, which have been tied to more than half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths.
“Our top priority as a regulator of long-term care facilities in Illinois is ensuring vulnerable Illinoisans are kept safe by those responsible for their care,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the release. “Anything short of that is unacceptable, and our entire department is committed to getting this right as we move forward.”
From March 15 through June 30, the release stated, abuse and neglect complaints about long-term care facilities weren’t properly reviewed as required by state law. The agency later investigated 272 allegations and substantiated “the factual circumstances of 17 of those complaints,” according to the release.