IDPH 125th


The Nursing Home Care Act was approved on July 17, 1945. It charged the Illinois Department of Public Health with formulating and enforcing rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of these facilities as well as minimum standards for location, construction, personnel, sanitation and diet.

Illinois law defines a nursing home as any facility, whether operated for profit or not, that houses three or more persons needing nursing care because of physical infirmity.

Initially, IDPH assigned responsibility for administering the act to its Division of Sanitary Engineering. Within two years, nursing expertise was added, standards and regulations were established and approximately 200 homes were licensed. Department field staff or the staff of local health departments conducted inspections. The state fire marshal’s office conducted fire safety surveys for the Department.

Today, Illinois has approximately 1,350 long-term care facilities serving more than 100,000 residents, from the young to the elderly. IDPH is still responsible for ensuring nursing homes fully comply with mandatory state regulations. In addition, under a cooperative agreement with the federal Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services, the Department also is responsible for ensuring that facilities accepting Medicare and Medicaid payment for services rendered to these program’s beneficiaries meet federal regulations and certification rules.

Each year, the Department conducts approximately 10,000 annual licensure inspections, complaint investigations and re-inspections. These inspections, called surveys, are conducted to evaluate the fitness and adequacy of the nursing home and its equipment, staff, policies, procedures and finances.

The Department, which has approximately 200 surveyors, employs a team concept in inspecting nursing homes. Teams consist of a registered professional nurse, a nutritionist and an environmental health practitioner. During some inspections, a team may be joined by other professionals, such as life safety code experts. Complaint investigations are conducted by surveyors with expertise in the area involved in the allegation (s).

Nursing homes are inspected at least once every six to 15 months, with a state average of once every 12 months. All nursing home inspections are conducted without notice to the facility, and survey schedules are changed annually to make it difficult for facilities to anticipate when inspections will be conducted.

A Timeline of the Illinois Department of Public Health

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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