December 6, 1999
EVERGREEN PARK FACILITY CITED FOR HOT WEATHER VIOLATION
SPRINGFIELD, IL The Illinois Department of Public Health has fined Emerald Park Health Care Center $5,000 (Statement of Violation) for failure to ensure residents were provided comfortable and safe living conditions last summer after its air conditioning system failed. The 249-bed skilled and intermediate care facility is located at 9125 S. Pulaski in Evergreen Park.
Responding to a complaint, Department surveyors found that 35 residents on the south end of the facility's third floor were not moved from their rooms on July 4 and 5, although temperatures reached dangerous levels when the cooling system for that area malfunctioned. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures on those two days reached 95 degrees.
On July 5, a shift commander with the Evergreen Park Fire Department went to the facility as the result of a heat complaint by a resident's relative and reported a room thermometer on the floor read 94 degrees. He informed Emerald Park staff if the residents were not moved from the area immediately, they would be taken from the facility by ambulance to other locations. As a result, staff moved the residents to other parts of the building where the air conditioning was working or where there were cooler temperatures. Staff at the facility admitted the heat was "smothering" on the third floor and nothing had been done until firefighters arrived. Other staff and residents said the air conditioning had not been working since July 1.
The facility's warm and hot weather policies call for evacuation of residents when the temperature in the building or rooms exceeds 85 degrees and residents show signs of heat exhaustion. In addition, the Department is to be notified, but was not in this instance. All residents of the third floor section were considered to be high-risk and were to have their temperatures and vital signs monitored frequently. Most residents had their temperatures taken, but no other vital signs were checked.
A Department-ordered plan of correction required the facility to train staff to recognize the effect of heat on residents and to be able to monitor environmental conditions and recognize dangerous heat situations.
Emerald Park has requested a hearing on the Department's action.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Questions or Comments