Aperion Care Forest Park rehabilitation and memory care facility, which saw a rash of heroin overdoses this past summer, racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from state and federal regulations and failed multiple inspections over the past three years.
According to public records, the Illinois Department of Public Health, which regulates nursing homes on state level, fined it a total of $140,700 during that period, while Medicaid fined it $651,186. The state reports cited failures to prevent patients from fighting, failure to prevent sexual assault, failures to keep patients with cognitive issues safe and failures to properly monitor patients’ health issues.
Representatives from Aperion Care didn’t respond to the request for comment by deadline.
Regulators say their goal isn’t to shut down these facilities, but to try to get any issues fixed as soon as possible. Penalties include losing access to Medicaid funding until they address cited problems.
IDPH spokesperson Mike Claffey said that the department “doesn’t generally comment on the specific cases.” But, generally speaking, the ultimate penalty to a skilled nursing facility like Aperion is losing access to Medicaid and Medicare patients. That would happen if IDPH finds that conditions inside the facility presents an immediate danger and the owners do nothing to correct the issues.
“The most serious penalty a home can face is a finding of Immediate Jeopardy – which means that they have placed the health and safety of residents at risk for serious injury, serious harm, serious impairment or death,” Claffey said. “The finding means they have 23 days to present IDPH with an acceptable plan of correction – and if they fail to do that, they are in jeopardy of losing access to Medicare funding.”
Aperion has had its Medicare payments suspended five times in the past three years.
Seven overdoses involving the use of Narcan and CPR were reported at Aperion between July 7 and Sept. 6, according to a recent Forest Park police report. Police Chief Ken Gross said that to the best of his knowledge, none of those overdoses were fatal. The report also said that an employee didn’t report overdoses to the police, took it upon himself to test the drugs and then flushed the substances down the toilet.
The Review has reported on safety issues and lawsuits at the nursing home both under Aperion and the previous operator, Pavilion. A review of reports showed that in the spring of 2021, Aperion was fined $25,000 for failing to keep patients from injuring each other, and another $25,000 for failing to keep a patient with cognitive issues safe. The patient reportedly sat on a dresser and fell, which resulted in a head injury that required hospital treatment. Aperion was reportedly aware that the patient was at the high risk of falls, but didn’t put anything in place to reduce the risk.
In the fall of 2021, Aperion was fined another $25,000 after another patient was injured because the staff didn’t properly lower the bed as they were moving the patient into the bed after a dialysis treatment.
In the winter of 2021, Aperion was fined $4,000 after the nursing home staff failed to notify a staff physician that one of their patients’ lab test results came back “abnormal” and the patient ended up hospitalized with acute kidney failure. The nursing home was also flagged for neglecting patients and causing them to develop ulcers.
In the winter of 2022, Apeiron was fined $25,000 for not monitoring a patient’s food for nutritional issues, causing the patient to lose nearly 28% of the body weight within three months and led to difficulty swallowing.
In the fall of 2022, Aperion was fined $2,000 after a patient touched the breasts and genitals of some patients. While the fine was only for failing to prevent a patient from sexually assaulting other patients, the report mentions that he assaulted the staff as well. The nursing home was fined another $2,000 for not properly treating a patient’s wounds, which led to the patient being hospitalized.
This winter, Aperion was cited for failure to keep patients from attacking and injuring other patients, and for an incident where a staff member was rough with a patient in a shower, allegedly becoming angry because the patient had a “bowel movement.”
The department flagged Aperion for failing to put in safety railings for patients that needed them to safety get out of bed, failing to provided incontinence care for six patients, and plugging a damaged air mattress court into a power outlet, which caused two power outages in the room where two patients were staying. Aperion was fined a total of $32,700.
This comes on top of the seven times Medicaid fined the nursing home during the same period. According to Medicaid records, the facility was fined once in 2020, three times in 2021, twice in 2022 and once in 2023. Aperion was denied Medicaid payments five out of those seven times. The site also indicated that during the most recent inspection on Jan. 10, the nursing home received 17 fire safety and emergency preparedness citations.