Troubled Westchester ursing home tried to boot woman whose daughter criticized facility, suit says

A west suburban nursing home where 12 residents have died of the coronavirus plotted to kick out an elderly woman because her daughter criticized the troubled facility, according to a lawsuit the daughter has filed in Cook County circuit court.

Lottie Smith, 82, was in the Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center in Westchester in late March when she appeared to be suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, according to the suit her daughter Loretta Brady filed against the nursing home.

“The administrator should have been more attentive to the residents,” according to Brady, who said her mother was diagnosed with the coronavirus, ultimately recovered and remains in the same facility. “Our complaints fell on deaf ears.”

On March 25, Smith was sent to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with a high fever and difficulty breathing, according to the suit. She returned to the nursing home but again was hospitalized April 26 after falling and having seizures, the lawsuit said, and she fell four more times in May.

The nursing home administrator, Libby Rusink, told a staff member to let Smith fall so her injuries would lead to her discharge, according to the suit.

In May, Brady spoke with news reporters about the spread of COVID-19 in the nursing home.

On June 1, according to her lawsuit, Rusink threatened to discharge Smith in 30 days in retaliation for Brady’s “comments, questions and actions” regarding neglect.

Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center.Google maps

Forty-six coronavirus cases have been linked to the nursing home, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Annaliese Impink, a spokeswoman for the nursing home, wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, which accuses the facility of years of mismanagement and ignoring repeated state warnings about hygiene problems that could lead to infections.

Separately, the sister of a woman who died from complications related to the coronavirus sued Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center this month, claiming negligence.

Read the Sun-Times May 10 Watchdogs report.