Whistleblower alleges attempted cover-up at South Holland nursing home

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SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. -- A certified nursing assistant said a patient was accidentally hurt on her watch, and then, she was told to lie about it. That nursing home is owned by the same company as an assisted living facility where a woman's recent death has been ruled a homicide.

The facilities are across the street from each other in suburban South Holland.

This CNA, who asked that WGN conceal her identity, said she decided to come forward to protect other patients and in the hopes of shedding some light on behavior she calls shameful and possibly illegal.

On March 14, a patient from The Villa at South Holland nursing home was rushed to the emergency room after a fall. She suffered a gash to the back of the head so big it required nine staples.

The CNA said she was asked to help move this patient by an RN when that patient fell out of a wheelchair.

“I accidentally stepped on the blanket and the resident slid from the wheelchair and I told the nurse 'stop,' but it was already too late and the resident had hit her head," she said. "There was blood on the floor.”

The CNA said the patient being moved has dementia and can’t communicate or move on her own.

“The paramedics arrived and they asked what had happened. 'How did she hurt herself?' I began to say how it happened, and the nurse from the third floor, who had not witnessed the fall said it did not matter how it happened, just that she hurt herself and is now bleeding,” the CNA said, explaining that the nurse cut her off.

The CNA said the nurses on her floor were upset because the patient was supposed to be moved using a device known as a “hoyer lift,” which elevates and moves immobile patients.

"In fact, she told me to say this was a hoyer lift accident," she said. "She knows for a fact this resident was not supposed to be moved unless it was with a hoyer lift. And the family knows that. And the family is calling their lawyer now. That’s exactly what the nurse had told me.”

The CNA said she was told by her superiors to lie about how the patient was moved.

The Illinois Department of Public Health sent investigators to look into the incident. Despite preparing a three-page statement giving her account, the CNA said her managers "typed up a four-sentence paragraph of what had happened.” She was told to give that statement to the health department.

The IDPH confirms they are investigating an incident that took place at The Villa at South Holland,  just as they’re investigating the deaths of three patients at Holland Home. Both are owned by the same Skokie-based company Villa Healthcare. Despite multiple attempts to reach the company, WGN has yet to receive a response.

The CNA said she resigned from her job with The Villa but not before telling state investigators her side of the story.

"I showed her my letter versus their paragraph," she said. "I told her exactly how I felt. That this was being pushed under the rug."

The CNA said state investigators were disturbed by the managers attempts to alter the CNA's version of what happened to cause this patient’s injury. So far, she has not suffered from any serious trauma due to this fall, the CNA said.