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State cites Winchester House for 14 violations

The Winchester House Libertyville. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

The Winchester House in Libertyville. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

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Winchester House earns an overall rating of “average” or three out of five stars on the Web site View survey findings on other Illinois nursing homes at

Updated: January 12, 2013 1:50AM

LIBERTYVILLE — Top administrators of Winchester House, the county-owned long-term care facility that was privatized last December, are downplaying numerous problems cited in recent state inspections.

During two separate surveys completed this fall at the facility at 1125 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, investigators cited 14 deficiencies and another incident involving a 52-year-old man prone to agitation and wandering. The man, who was admitted to Winchester House in August, frequently took off his pants and underwear and climbed into bed with other patients.

On Oct. 16, the man, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, severe mental retardation, dementia, depression and bipolar disorder “with psychotic features,” according to a report by the state Department of Health and Human Services, was found naked from the waist down, standing by the bedside of a female patient who was partially unclothed.

The woman was taken to a hospital and “no visible evidence of assault was found,” according to the report. The man has since left the care of Winchester House, said Richard Curtis, facility administrator, who said all problems found by the state were corrected within four weeks.

Other deficiencies noted during an annual license and certification survey completed Oct. 1 included call-light buttons placed out of reach of patients; problems with gastric feeding tubes; falls from beds and wheelchairs and lack of evaluation to prevent recurring falls; problems related to transferring patients using mechanical lifts; improper maintenance of respiratory equipment; insufficient 24-hour nursing staff; failure, on one unit, to distribute and store food in a sanitary manner; improper handling of medications and failure to maintain sanitary medication rooms; failure to follow infection control standards including hand washing and changing gloves; failure to provide adequate in-service training for certified nurse assistants; failure to make complaint investigations readily available to patients and their families; and lack of documentation for patients on antipsychotic medications (many older patients are wrongly prescribed such medication for non-psychotic behavior, inspectors noted),

Curtis said Monday the laundry list of problems discovered at Winchester House during the state’s annual survey are not unusual.

“If you look up any facility in the area, you will find similar types of things,” he said. “Of course, we take it very seriously.”

Winchester House administration responded with a “plan of correction,” Curtis said. “We had a re-visit last week and we were cleared of all citations.”

Curtis praised Illinois’ system of regulations and unannounced inspections of nursing homes. Fourteen deficiencies are not unprecedented, he said.

“Three years ago, there were 21,” he said. “Last year, there were eight.”

Operation of Winchester House, which currently serves 177 residents who are funded through Medicare and Medicaid, was taken over by Health Dimensions Group, which operates a dozen nursing facilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

The facility employs about 160 people, 75 percent of whom are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or certified nurse assistants.

Curtis confirmed the facility’s director of nursing left a week ago, but declined to discuss “personnel matters.”

A six-member advisory board, including two Lake County Board members, helps oversee the facility.

“It was a lot of minor things,” said Lake County Administrator Barry Burton, who blamed changes in state reporting procedures for some of the survey results. “HDG has done a tremendous job. They understand regulations and changes to the industry and they’re responsive to that.”

Burton also praised the company for “containing costs.”

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