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Board looking into recent rise in deaths

URBANA -- Leaders at the Champaign County Nursing Home are trying to determine why dozens of residents have died in the past three months.
URBANA -- Leaders at the Champaign County Nursing Home are trying to determine why dozens of residents have died in the past three months. 60-people have passed away since December. The nursing home is on Bartell Road. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera tries to find the answers.

One board member says the home has more hospice patients than usual and that may have played a factor. But, they want to make certain they know for sure.

"I've had both a grandparent and my father pass away in nursing homes, with my father in hospice care specifically."

That's why Josh Hartke says he wanted to be on the nursing home's board in the first place, to make sure people here are safe and sound in their last home. Now, he and the rest of the board are trying to find answers to the seemingly high number of deaths the past three months.

"We do have a high number of hospice patients and I think that might lead to the data, but every member of the board, when this number came up, asked questions about this."

In the past few years, the population at the home has fluctuated between 185 - 210. But, some numbers specifically have been on the rise.

"The hospice numbers are up. We are maintaining more people who are in end-of-life care, so our passing numbers are going to go up because of that."

27 of the recent deaths were hospice patients. Hartke says cold and flu season could have been another factor, but they don't want to guess. They want to find out for sure.

"It's something that's important that we do need to address and we need to chase down epidemiologically, is this being caused by something, or is this just a simple spike?"

Board members say there's no reason for people in the community to be concerned. They started an investigation to find out exactly what happened in each of these cases.

The nursing home has taken a financial hit because of the recent deaths. It had a net loss of $67,000 in January. The manager says that's expected with a drop in the number of residents. They say expenses also increased that month. As of last week, 183 people are living in the facility.
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