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Two nursing home deaths under investigation

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) -- Another death is being investigated at a Central Illinois nursing home. Coroner Duane Northrup said a second investigation is now open at the Champaign County Nursing Home. A 78-year old woman died in an outdoor courtyard June 10.

Northrup said these investigations are routine. He said they investigate deaths at every nursing home, and it's not unusual to have two open cases at one place. Instead, he thinks it's getting attention because the home has had other issues, from money problems to poor Medicare ratings to declining number of residents.

Now, it's death investigations. 

"Since the first of the year, we have four total that could be from something other than natural causes."

Two of those cases are still open. One was Sonya Kington, who died in a courtyard while she was left alone. The county administrator said they are devastated by the loss.

State police and public health are looking into the death and so is the coroner.

"My job, as the coroner, is to look into all the deaths that occur in nursing homes, and we do. If we see anything that causes us concern or could be criminal in nature, we'd be the first person to report that to the local police."

The coroner said nothing looked out of the ordinary. Kington wasn't hurt, and there wasn't trauma. But he's still waiting to make a final decision.

"At this time, it's still possible that it could be natural causes, but until we get all our results back from the autopsy and the lab tests, I can't say for sure."

The county board chairman is also weighing in. He said there needs to be a change.

"It indicates that more training needs to be done. No question about that, because protocol was not followed, I don't think, in my opinion." 

The coroner said he's still waiting on autopsy results from both deaths. Those usually take 60 - 90 days.

The Champaign County Board said it's hiring a new management company to take over the nursing home starting July 1. It also plans to talk about brokerage firms which would sell the home if the board comes to that decision. 


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