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Helia Healthcare fined $75,000 after two more resident deaths

Helia Healthcare, a nursing home in Champaign, has been fined $75,000 after two resident deaths. This comes less than a year after another resident death, for which the home was fined $50,000 earlier this year. In all three cases, Helia chose not to contest the fines and waived its right to a hearing, allowing it a 35 percent reduction in penalties.

The first death occurred on December 30th, 2017. Annette White, an 89-year old with Alzheimer’s, wandered outside alone on a cold night. Though it was 8 degrees below zero, she was wearing only thin clothing and one shoe. Staff members later found her on her back, frozen to death. The Illinois Department of Public Health determined that the nursing home had failed to properly monitor her. Helia received a Class AA violation, the most severe type, and a $50,000 fine.

The second death occurred on February 7th, 2018. A resident with tongue cancer, who was supposed to be supervised while eating, was left alone with his mother for a meal. Neither his mother nor the nurse was made aware that the patient needed supervision. The resident, who has difficulty swallowing, choked while eating. After his mother called for a nurse, he was moved onto his side and then taken to the hospital, where he later died. Helia received a Class A violation and a $25,000 fine for this negligence.

The most recent death occurred on March 18. In this instance, a resident was using a mechanical lift sling, which helps the resident move between a bed and a chair. Earlier in the year, the same resident had fallen when a frayed sling snapped off, resulting in a hospital stay. Staff left the frayed sling in that resident’s room, and this first fall was never addressed. Later, the frayed sling was used again, this time tearing completely and causing the resident to fall again. This time, the resident sustained a brain hemorrhage, resulting in their eventual death. Helia received a Class AA violation and a $50,000 fine.

For more information on this story, keep checking our blog, or read more at the News-Gazette.