I got involved in a “new” state-wide task force yesterday, the (Nursing Home) Death Reporting Task Force. We will be developing, piloting, and then implementing a project to ensure better reporting and, when appropriate, investigation of the deaths of individuals in nursing homes and related facilities. While we already require reporting from the nursing homes in Lake County, I look forward to this effort in improving these “reports”.
We met yesterday in Springfield (my first meeting with the group) 5 Coroners and individuals from IL Dept. of Public Health, the Attorney General’s office and State Police. We will be working to improve reporting and follow-up across the state, ultimately. In addition to adding a few questions to what we routinely ask when the deaths are reported to us, I think it will be good for systematizing the reports, improving our ability to report “questions” to IL Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) for their investigation and encourage sharing both ways. One piece I particularly look forward to is IDPH sharing with us nursing home “complaints” and “trends” so we can look a bit more “suspiciously” at death reportings from those facilities. And hopefully head off events like the upcoming 6 exhumations in McHenry and Lake Counties to investigate deaths at a nursing home in McHenry County.
Often nursing home residents don’t have advocates and folks watching closely after them. I think it is only right that the Coroner watch out after their interests after death and perhaps gather data to prevent needless deaths in the future.