Nursing homes struggle with delayed state funding

In a FOX 32 special report: the growing crisis for Illinois’ nursing homes.

Money meant to help fund nursing homes is being held up by the state, impacting nursing home facilities, staffing and patient care.

Recently, FOX 32 visited one home that’s seen more than its share of problems.

“What we found was a horror story. He literally overheated and died as a result of extremely high temperatures in the facility,” said Steve Levin.

Attorney Steve Levin says Parnell Benjamin died at Glenshire Nursing Home in Richton Park last year from hypothermia and neglect.

“We have situations where they didn't have enough staff to these residents, there was no nurse assigned to our client,” Levin said.

Levin says Benjamin is just one example of the problems at Glenshire. And after FOX 32 first told you about his case last month, we heard from another family who says their loved one has struggled at the same facility.

Leonard Garner and Betty Wilson flipped through old photos of Willie Johnson during our visit. He's Wilson’s longtime boyfriend.

“45 years,” Wilson said.

But the once-gregarious Willy is now sick.

“And things have just kinda really diminished,” Garner said.

“It makes me feel bad. I just can't take it. I cry all the time,” Wilson said.

After hearing about both cases, we decided to dig deeper into Glenshire's records. The Department of Public Health, which regulates nursing homes in Illinois, shows dozens of complaint investigations against Glenshire in recent years.

“This nursing home has a very bad record,” Levin said.

That includes a one-star rating on the Medicare website. The biggest problems, according to government data, include under-staffing and quality of care.

Both Garner and Wilson agree.

“There's just not enough people to meet the needs of the residents,” Levin said.

Glenshire's residents are almost all Medicare or Medicaid dependent. That means the facility needs to get paid by the government in order to run properly.

“So now we just trying to figure out - what are the options?” Garner said.

And it turns out, options for families like Willy's are limited because nursing home problems aren't just happening at Glenshire.

A comptroller's report from earlier this year shows up to $300 million dollars in Medicaid payments for nursing homes are backlogged. Facilities are then going without funding to pay for staff or care for residents.

And without these facilities, patients like Willy would have nowhere else to go.

“We wish we could bring him home, yes. Bring him home and have the proper care,” Garner said. “It's just not affordable.”

Glenshire told FOX 32 the safety and well-being of its residents is its top priority, and patient privacy and pending litigation prevents it from talking about specific cases.

The state also told us $61 million dollars in payments are currently being processed and that nursing homes also receive reimbursements from managed health care plans.