Federal authorities are moving this week to terminate
funding to the troubled Wincrest
Center on the city's North Side after state and federal inspections documented residents engaged in bloody fights and
that spilled from the facility out into the surrounding community.
An 80-bed home that primarily houses adults with mental illnesses, including dozens with felony records, Wincrest has for years been the subject of complaints by local officials and neighbors, as well as students and staff from nearby
. Seven Loyola residence halls housing about 600 students stand within a block of the home at 6326 N. Winthrop Ave.
A 2009 Tribune article showed that Wincrest had failed to notify state officials of numerous felons living in the facility, as required by Illinois law, and reported that some residents used illegal drugs and committed crimes in the neighborhood.
Wincrest administrator Narad Persadsingh and the part-owners listed in state records, Ernest and Adel Farkas, did not respond to messages seeking comment. In the past, Persadsingh has said Wincrest worked hard to provide good care to a difficult population of adults.
A 21-page summary report from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, sent to the facility in late February and obtained by the Tribune this week, said poorly trained staff failed to supervise dangerous residents or provide them with adequate psychiatric services "to prevent avoidable mental deterioration."
Some residents were not receiving the psychotropic medications they had been prescribed, while others were "often found in the facility intoxicated or under the influence of drugs," the summary report said.
A separate state Department of Public Health inspection report from December said one resident was prostituting herself in the neighborhood and using the money to buy
. Another resident pulled a foot-long knife on a housemate and threatened to stab him. That knife was confiscated, but inspectors later visited the man's room and found a new one resting in plain sight on the man's windowsill.
Since December, Wincrest has been hit with federal and state fines totaling more than $400,000, including an ongoing $10,000-per-day penalty imposed Feb. 9. Unless dramatic improvements are made to reverse all instances of "immediate jeopardy" to patient safety, Wincrest will stop receiving Medicaid funding Sunday, although Medicaid will still provide money for some residents for up to 30 days or until they can placed elsewhere, authorities said.
Wincrest may choose to remain open while trying to re-enter the Medicaid system or while selling to a new owner. But the funding cutoff likely will force Wincrest out of business because Medicaid accounts for nearly 99 percent of its revenue, according to records filed with the state. The taxpayer-financed Medicaid program paid Wincrest about $2.3 million in 2009, those records show.
"I am praying that it is closed down for the sake of the residents, (their) families and the community," said 48th Ward Ald. Mary Ann Smith. "Residents are moving in and out of the facility and posing a danger to the community."
State officials say they are working to determine where to place residents should the facility shut down. But for now, the state health department has a monitor at the facility four days a week to ensure that standards for patient safety and care are met.
"This action is long overdue," state Rep.
said of the looming Medicaid termination. "Wincrest has been a problem nursing home in our neighborhood for a number of years."
The facility's unqualified social service staff assessed one resident as safe to go out into the community alone, even though he talked openly about smoking crack and had threatened another Wincrest resident with a knife, the federal report said. That man was subsequently arrested while out on a community pass.
The federal inspectors also criticized Wincrest for failing to supervise a resident who had a history of substance abuse and battery arrests. He kicked a housemate in the face and left the facility, then was later hospitalized.
Wincrest's policy and procedure manual "was about 45 years old," the federal report said, and the administrator could not name the facility's medical director.