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Lawmakers Addressing Staffing Issues in Illinois Nursing Homes

Warning: To help tell this story, we do have some images that are graphic.

More than one-third of Illinois nursing homes filed self-reported data proving they were understaffed in 2015. Residents were denied 9.1 million hours of vital care they need. Some Illinois lawmakers are trying to change that with SB 1624.

SB 1624 is a new bill to enforce an old bill, making sure nursing homes have enough staff to care for their residents properly.

"Here's the problem, we now know that even though that bill has been law for six years, it's simply, in many instances, not being followed," Senator Daniel Biss, who is sponsoring the bill, said.

Not being followed because lawmakers say that 2010 bill is too vague and penalties are so low that it's cheaper for the center to be fined rather than follow the law.

"It's overwhelming at times, especially if you can't give your 100 percent," LPN Tabetha Oster said. "I have heard that when public health comes in, that some facilities use management on the schedules to make it look like there's more staff for that day."

That results in stories like Jerry Rabbe’s, whose mother suffered from Alzheimer's and was passed around from long-term care centers to hospitals and back again.

"They should provide the care needed for the patients," Rabbe said. "That's why they have the facility, so let's just do what you're going to say."

After a fall, Rabee's mother was involuntarily discharged from the facility she was in. Which means she was not accepted back to where she called home.

"When she was discharged, that was just the cards I was dealt," Rabbe said. "I had to deal with it, the best I could which was finding another facility, which I did. Just moved on and went on and did what was necessary to do the best to take care of her."

Illinois leads the nation in improper discharge of long-term care residents; another item lawmakers hope to change with this bill.

Currently, this bill is in the early stages sitting in the Public Health Committee. If it passes out of committee, it will go to the Senate floor for debate. If the bill passes, 5,463 jobs will be created overnight in Illinois to make up for the issue of under staffing.

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