CHICAGO — State and federal authorities are seeking to fine a nursing home in Illinois over $100,000 after five residents overdosed on heroin this year.
The alleged incidents occurred at Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chicago this past February. While the facility is primarily for the elderly, many of its residents are not senior citizens. Some live at the center due to mental illness.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a 33-year-old resident told a health department inspector that a relative of another occupant was selling “white powder in a small zippered baggie.” The resident bought the heroin and blacked out.
“I don’t remember much after that until I woke up and saw the paramedics standing over me,” they said.
One man had difficulty staying awake during the interview with the inspector. His fellow resident advised that he “got high again this morning.”
One of those who had overdosed and were taken to the hospital overdosed again after returning to the nursing facility.
Police had been called to Continental last year after staff were informed that recreational drugs were being used by residents. Employees searched the rooms and located paraphernalia used to shoot narcotics.
In a separate incident, a 56-year-old was found on the floor with packets of a white powder nearby.
Now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is seeking to fine Continental $76,000 over the matter, and the Illinois Department of Health has fined the facility $25,000 for failing to keep tabs on residents with drug addictions.
One of the owners of Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center told the Chicago Tribune that he wasn’t aware of the problems.
“If you are right,” Moishe Gubin said, “it goes against what our mission has been.”
The facility is contesting the state fine, and in April, officials released a corrective plan that notes those “with active substance abuse” will no longer be allowed to occupy the center.
As previously reported, police departments in two states have recently released photos of heroin users passed out in their vehicle in order to show the public the serious ramifications of drug use.
Last month, authorities in Hope, Indiana released photos of a young mother who was found unresponsive—with a baby in the back seat of the car.
Erika Hurt, 25, was administered two doses of Narcan, a nasal spray that works to reverse suspected Opioid overdoses. Hurt was transported to the Columbus Regional Hospital for further evaluation, and later taken to Bartholomew County Jail, where she was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and child neglect. The baby was turned over to the custody of Hurt’s mother.
In September, an Ohio grandmother and her friend lost consciousness while on the way to the hospital to obtain help for an overdose. The woman’s grandson was riding in the back seat.
The City of East Liverpool posted to social media an unblurred photo of Rhonda Pasek, 50, and James Accord, 47—along with the young boy—stating that it needed to “be a voice for the children.”
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug,” officials explained. “We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
Pasek was sentenced to serve six months in the Columbiana County Jail. Accord was sentenced to almost a year behind bars for being behind the wheel. The child was transferred to the custody of his great aunt.