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The summers can be particularly tough on the senior population. When a heat wave hits our city it is not uncommon to hear stories of elderly individuals living alone who face serious injury or even die as a result of extreme temperatures and poor air cooling options. The elder community members most at risk are those living alone and without extensive social networks. When there are not others to provide help or notice warning signs, then the potential for injury is high.
But that should never happen in a nursing home or assisted living facility, right?
Unfortunately, it does.
Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys know that the quality of care at some facilities lapse to the point where basic risks caused by the heat are not taken into account. When that occurs, the life of residents are at risk
For example, the Illinois elder abuse lawyers at our firm were recently retained by a local family to investigate the death of their father at the Concord Place Retirement & Assisted Living Community in Northlake. The 60-year old man was found unresponsive in early July on the facility’s rooftop greenhouse. He was pronounced dead after being discovered.
The possible cause of death was clear early on. Just four days before the tragedy, the entire facility was fully evacuated over heat wave concerns. There was a power outage at the home caused by storms, rendering the air conditioning units ineffective. Understanding the risk of harm to seniors as a result of high temperatures with no cooling, the residents were properly transferred.
But were they let back in too soon?
As our Chicago nursing home neglect attorney Steve Levin recently noted about the case, even after the return from the evacuation, “the facility remained very warm, with uncomfortable conditions for several days.”
Perhaps most tellingly, Levin explained that several other residents required hospitalization for heat exhaustion even after they arrived back from the evacuation. This may indicate that temperatures inside the facility remained too high for this vulnerable group, causing a rash of injuries and perhaps leading to the untimely death of the resident on the greenhouse roof.
In addition, evidence suggests that the resident in this case was not seen by staff members for at least four hours. That elopment may prove to be the crucial misstep which allowed him to go unnoticed in the greenhouse, even as he faced medical problems.
Taken together all of this strongly indicates possible nursing home negligence. It goes without saying that caregivers at these facilities owe a duty to act reasonably in relation to the residents. That includes ensuring that the environment in which they live is safe. It also means that proper supervision should be provided to residents at all times such that they receive the aid that they need to avoid injury. Unfortunately, that proper care may not have been provided in this case
The investigations into the matter will hopefully uncover the full extent of the problems which led to the tragedy. It is crucial that no other resident at this home suffer similar harm as a result of inadequate care given by those who are paid to provide it.
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