By Maria Maxham
Aperion Care in Forest Park is being sued by the family of a Bolingbrook man who bled to death at the facility in October 2018.
The suit, filed on Oct. 29 in Cook County Circuit Court, charges the nursing home with negligence for not checking the condition of Jaime Hernandez, 66. It seeks monetary damages and "cites 17 specific failures of the nursing home to properly care for Mr. Hernandez."
Hernandez, whose family has hired the Chicago law firm Levin & Perconti to represent them, was admitted to the nursing home following a kidney transplant. The suit alleges that the facility knew Hernandez needed to be checked regularly, since a dialysis catheter following a kidney transplant had left him at risk for a circulatory condition in his left forearm.
He was reportedly found on Oct. 25, 2018 in a pool of blood in his bathroom at Aperion Forest Park, 8200 Roosevelt Road. He had been at the nursing facility since Oct. 8.
According to Margaret Battersy Black of Levin & Perconti, standard practice at Aperion is to check on residents at least every two hours. Additionally, Hernandez's doctor's orders required he be checked on at least three times a day to look for infection or abnormality, but records allegedly show this was not done.
Forest Park Chief of Police Tom Aftanas confirmed that video they obtained showed Hernandez had not been checked on at the two-hour mark as was standard practice at Aperion.
To make matters worse for Hernandez's family, when they went to his room to retrieve his belongings, they noticed his iPhone was missing. They allege it was stolen by a staff member who had no reason to be in the patient's room. Police found outstanding warrants on the staff member from Iowa, but Aperion had only checked an Illinois database for criminal background information when they hired him.
Frederick Frankel, general counsel for Aperion, said in an email that "given the ongoing litigation we are unable to comment on this matter at this time."
Medicare has given Aperion Care Forest Park an overall rating of one out of five stars, a "much below average" status.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were four licensure violations reported in July of 2019. These violations were related to resident care policies, general requirements for nursing and personal care, medical care, and abuse and neglect.
Aperion Care Forest Park is owned by David Berkowitz and Yosef Meystel, who purchased the former Pavilion Forest Park at the same address in 2007. At the time, Pavilion had racked up tens of thousands of dollars in fines from the Illinois Department of Health under its previous ownership.
Berkowitz and Meystel began operating the facility as Berkshire Nursing and Rehab, and the facility was sued by an 82-year-old man who said he was struck in the eye by a nursing assistant in 2008. The blow was so hard that he required surgery, and he sued Berkshire for $50,000.
In 2018, the Rock Island Dispatch Argus reported that Aperion Care in East Moline, owned by Meystel, was fined $75,000 by the Illinois Department of Public Health for the death of a resident and the escape of another. According to the Dispatch, the nursing home was fined $50,000 for the accidental strangulation death of a resident and $25,000 when a resident escaped and was found partially clothed, wandering on a road, in 38-degree weather.
Meystel has been in trouble for nursing homes even earlier than that. In 2005, Emerald Park Health Care Center in Evergreen Park was shut down. The facility was being overseen by Meystel at the time and had run up at least 168 violations from the state during Meystel's tenure, according to information from Nursing Home Law Center, a law firm.
The Chicago Tribune did a story in 2005 about the violations, which included the facility housing 10 sex offenders, two of whom were not registered, and failing to supervise and protect a resident with a sexually transmitted disease who became pregnant after allegedly sleeping with other residents in exchange for cigarettes and favors.
According to the Forest Park Review in 2008, Meystel said there were circumstances beyond his control at Evergreen Park, and that by the time he took over, it was already too late.
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