Residents of nursing homes managed by the Alden Group, which has multiple locations in the Chicago area, including McHenry, have filed a lawsuit alleging dangerous conditions, neglect and understaffing.
The Alden Group is one of the largest health care providers for older adults in Illinois, according to the AARP Foundation.
The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, involves 11 residents of six nursing facilities.
Those facilities include Alden Lakeland, Alden Terrace McHenry, Alden Town Manor, Alden Heather Healthcare Center, Alden Princeton Rehabilitation and Health Care Center and Alden Village North.
The complaint alleges Alden attracts thousands of residents to its facilities and then “systematically” understaffs those facilities, causing “dangerous, distressing and grossly unsanitary living conditions” for thousands of residents.
According to the complaint, Alden saves millions of dollars each year by not hiring sufficient staff and allegedly hiding it from regulators.
The company’s facilities are alleged to have inadequate numbers of certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, dietary staff and therapists.
Alden Terrace McHenry in 2020 provided only 40% of the necessary hours of CNA care and 27% fewer RN hours than necessary to meet residents’ needs, the complaint said.
The understaffing at Alden Terrace McHenry reportedly saves the company approximately $1.8 million annually.
The suit alleges that Alden’s neglect and use of unfair business practices violate the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
“The goal with this class action is to finally end the chronic understaffing at Alden facilities. It will also send a strong message to other nursing homes and assisted living facilities that they too will be held accountable for intentional understaffing,” says Steven Levin, of Chicago-based law firm Levin & Perconti.
“As Alden profits, residents pay the price. We see the results every day as we represent residents who suffered severe injuries from falls, acquired pressure ulcers that worsened without treatment, or waited indefensibly long periods to be diagnosed with potentially life-threatening conditions,” Levin said.
The suit says that, due to understaffing, residents suffer severe injuries from falls, acquire ulcers that worsen without treatment and wait “indefensible long periods” to be diagnosed with critical conditions.
Residents have fallen down the stairs while strapped to a wheelchair, fractured their neck when dropped by one person using a mechanical lift that requires two people, and ingested poisonous chemicals due to lack of care and supervision, according to the complaint.
“Nursing facilities have a responsibility to meet the individualized needs of every resident. That is not happening at these Alden facilities,” says William Alvarado Rivera, Senior Vice President of Litigation at AARP Foundation.
“It is imperative that residents can hold them accountable in court through private rights of action for abusive and neglectful practices,” Rivera said.
The lawsuit also alleges Alden has lied about its staffing levels to regulators and falsified documents with “ghost staffing.”