IDPH Announces Review of LTC Bureau In Response to Delayed Complaint Investigations

By Benjamin Cox on August 21, 2020 at 2:49pm

The Illinois Department of Public Health is announcing a major independent review of its Bureau of Long-Term Care in the Office of Health Care Regulation, in response to a delay in the investigation of abuse and neglect complaints during the COVID-19 pandemic. Manatt Health Strategies, LLC, has been hired to conduct a top to bottom review of the division, with a focus on recommending best practices to ensure proper licensure and oversight activities by the Bureau of Long-Term Care. IDPH has also hired a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, A. Courtney Cox, to take a closer look at specific investigations IDPH conducted into complaints made concerning long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The independent reviews are being launched in response to IDPH’s recent discovery that the Bureau of Long-Term Care was not properly processing and investigating complaints of abuse and neglect at long-term care facilities from approximately March 15 to June 30th. IDPH took immediate action to ensure all of the complaints received during this time period have been investigated. IDPH also took appropriate personnel action.

Under federal and State laws, IDPH responds to allegations of abuse and neglect at long-term care facilities by surveying the facilities within designated timeframes. Many of the timeframes were suspended at the federal level due to COVID-19 exposure concerns. Regardless of the guidance from federal CMS, however, Illinois law that requires abuse and neglect complaints to be reviewed within certain timeframes was not suspended and IDPH personnel did not complete reviews of allegations of abuse and neglect in a timely manner and in some cases, did not properly classify the claims.

According to a press release today, as soon as IDPH leadership identified that some abuse and neglect complaints had been improperly classified and not investigated in a timely manner, surveyors were directed to investigate all complaints of abuse and neglect that had not yet been investigated. Investigations for all 272 complaints of abuse and neglect that were received during that time period have now been completed. As a result of those investigations, IDPH was able to substantiate the factual circumstances of 17 of those complaints. As the next step in the regulatory process, IDPH is now reviewing those substantiated factual findings to determine whether they constitute a violation of federal or state law and the appropriate next steps for such violations. Cox and Manatt are now working through best practices and review of the Long-Term Care Bureau for immediate implementation.

Anyone with a complaint about a long-term care facility – residents, families, staff, visitors, etc. – can file a complaint with the IDPH Central Complaint Registry hotline at 800-245-4343.