Nursing Home Rape Leads to Resident Safety Concerns

A brutal nursing home assault in Illinois recently shed light on an ongoing problem many nursing homes are facing today—how to maintain resident safety in homes that take in violent mentally ill patients and criminals.

In January of this year, a 69-year old female resident of Maplewood care nursing home in Elgin, Illinois was found crying and terrified in her room, moaning in pain. According to police reports, 21-year old Christopher Shelton, a mentally ill patient from the second floor, had assaulted the woman—raping her, as she begged him to stop.

Although psychiatric patients are not an inherent threat in homes, some residents have criminal records, and if not carefully assessed, treated or monitored, can be a big concern for resident safety. At Maplewood, officials had reserved rooms on the nursing home’s second floor for psychiatric patients—but the separation between floors was not safely protected or monitored.

When Shelton, who suffers from bipolar disorder, moved into the nursing home, he had a violent history including an aggravated battery conviction, as well as other aggression related arrests. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Shelton was arrested three times last year for alleged offenses that all included nursing home violence.

Before Shelton entered the home at the end of last year, the facility staff didn’t properly check his criminal background, or listen to the director’s warnings from the previous nursing home on his violent and disturbing behavior. After the resident assault and injury, facility officials told the state investigators that Shelton and the woman had been involved in “consensual” sex—a suggestion that the emergency room staff, the prosecutors as well as the police vehemently rejected.

As of June, Maplewood housed around 200 residents, 15 of which were felons. State public health officials cited the nursing home for patient-safety violations, and fined Maplewood $20,000. Maplewood is currently appealing this fine. The facility submitted a “plan of correction” approved by state officials, where administrators from Maplewood would make a list of residents with the propensity for nursing home abuse or violence, and place information on their room doors, so the staff would be aware and take necessary precautions in order to protect elderly residents.

If you are worried that an elderly friend or loved one who is staying at a nursing home in Maryland or the Washington D.C. area has suffered from nursing home abuse or violence, call Lebowitz and Mzhen for a free consultation. Our Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers can assess the situation for you, and make sure that your loved one receives the compensation they are owed. Call us at 1-800-654-1949.

Task Force Targets Violence in Ill. Nursing Homes, Associated Press, October 8, 2009
Nursing Homes a Risky Business, Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2009
Nursing Homes Called ‘Dumping Grounds’ for Mentally Ill, MedPage, March 23, 2009
Mentally Ill Endanger Nursing Home Patients,, March 22, 2009

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA): National Mental Health Information Center
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS): Nursing Home Quality Initiative, (NHQI)

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