KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Illinois Nursing Homes Mix Seniors And Mentally Ill Patients, Some Criminals

Some Illinois nursing homes create dangerous and unsafe environments by mixing seniors and younger mentally ill residents, the Chicago Tribune reports: "More than any other state, Illinois relies heavily on nursing homes to house mentally ill patients, including those who have committed crimes. But a Tribune investigation found that government, law enforcement and the industry have failed to adequately manage the resulting influx of younger residents who shuttle into nursing facilities from jail cells, shelters and psychiatric wards."

Citing government records, the article reports that "mentally ill patients now constitute more than 15 percent of the state's total nursing home population of 92,225," and "the number of residents convicted of serious felonies has increased to 3,000. Among them are 82 convicted murderers, 179 sex offenders and 185 armed robbers. Yet the state's background checks on new residents are riddled with errors and omissions that understate their criminal records, the Tribune found, and homes with the most felons are among those with the lowest nursing staff levels." State authorities don't track nursing home crimes including assaults. "Illinois' largest nursing home owners' association, the Health Care Council of Illinois ... advocates creating separate, specialized facilities that would provide mental health treatment to high-risk patients with felony convictions."

The article includes graphics and other multimedia features (Jackson and Marx, 9/29).

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