Illinois nursing homes face greater fines, stricter rules

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Illinois nursing homes are getting fined more often and for greater amounts, according to state Department of Public Health records pulled by the Associated Press. Mostly, it's due to fines for infractions that previously did not call for them.

The state has been working more concertedly with advocacy groups to revise fine amounts, according to Health Department spokeswoman Tammy Leonard. Last year, health officials started charging $5,000 fines when a resident strayed from a center. Also last year, violations in which a death was involved were raised to a $50,000 fine.

Illinois officials fined 56 facilities a total of $441,700 in 2001. Last year, however, 100 facilities were fined $955,000, and as of June 30 this year, the state had already fined 51 facilities $575,000.

"We think (government officials) are choosing to raise revenue and not considering the fallout from the method they're using," Melvin Siegel, a board member with the Illinois Nursing Home Administrators Association, told the AP.