Myjournalcourier.com had an article written by Maria Nagle about a recent lawsuit filed against a nursing home on behalf of Bruce Hopley who was only 51 years young.   The article states that when Mr. Hopley, 51, was admitted to Golden Moments Senior Care Center.  The staff knew or should have known that Mr. Hopley was “severely diabetic.”   He had a history of emergency hospitalizations because of seizures and erratic blood sugar levels.

On Sept. 17, 2006, Mr. Hopley was found dead about an hour after the facility documented he had high blood sugar levels. His death came 19 days after he had been admitted to the facility.

The lawsuit claims negligence in Mr. Hopley’s death because his blood sugar levels were not properly monitored. He was not provided the proper care at the nursing home.   As a result of the alleged negligence, Mr. Hopley suffered “great mental and physical pain prior to his death."

The lawsuit also alleges Golden Moments was under capitalized, and there exists state and federal tax liens against the facility exceeding $250,000. The facility also allegedly employs staff at levels below the national average for similar facilities, “creating dangerous conditions for the residents of the nursing home,” the lawsuit alleges.

 

McKnights Long Term Care had a great article on a study that proves the importance and necessity of one-on-one supervision, exercise, and encouragement when feeding residents in a nursing home.  Because of prevalent understaffing in the nursing home industry, most nursing homes do not or cannnot provide enough staff to make sure that the residents are eating enough nutritious foods.

Supervision and encouragement during meals has been proven to reduce the occurrence of unintentional weight loss among long-stay nursing home residents according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.  Vanderbilt University researchers assessed the unintentional weight loss of 76 nursing home residents.

Half of the group received additional attention during mealtime while the other half served as a control group.  Researchers noticed that 52% of residents maintained their weight when they were part of the extra attention group. That compares with 28% of residents in the control group.  Researchers suggest that groups of three or four residents per staff member during mealtimes are more practical and just as effective as one-on-one care.

The new study found that the combination of light exercise and specific nutritional supplements could help keep seniors fit for a longer period of time.   Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England divided 60 seniors into two groups. One group performed moderate exercise once a week and the other performed high resistance exercise twice a week. Within those two groups, some received carbohydrate and protein supplements before and after exercise; some did not.   While all groups showed improved muscle mass and overall strength at the end of the 12-week trial, the most striking results came from the light exercise group that received supplements, according to the study.

This story is rather far from home, but I thought I’d share it.  Apparently an elderly man in a nursing facility got up hungry, and was given a snack by an aide.  He was later found spitting into a sink with a bottle of pink industrial diswashing detergent nearby.  He was taken to the hospital with burns to the mouth, esophagus, and vocal cords, where he died four days later.

This is like basic child proofing, and I’m terrible at child proofing – I think I’ll try harder.

I’m pretty sure there’s a violation of a policy and/or procedure here somewhere.

If you’re interested, its a short article.

Dan Miller of the Patriot-News wrote an interesting article about Harry Accor who runs a temporary staffing agency that provides nurses, practical nurses and certified nursing assistants to fill employment gaps in nursing homes. Accor’s agency, Care Corps LLC, provides temporary staffing to 16 nursing homes from Lancaster and York to Philadelphia.

Care Corps has 89 employees. As part of his expansion in this region, Accor expects to hire 55 to 70 licensed practical nurses, 15 registered nurses and more nursing assistants.  He previously worked as a nurse through various agencies, but the experience was frustrating and the work sporadic.   Agencies sent him to homes he hadn’t been to before, where he didn’t know the staff or patients.

Accor said the nurses and nursing assistants his agency places in nursing homes are Care Corps employees and not independent contractors. Care Corps offers benefits and tuition assistance.  These measures make his work force more stable providing stability at nursing homes where staffing shortages are always a problem.

The use of temporary staffing agencies by nursing homes is a sensitive subject.  Accor would not identify any nursing homes to which his agency, Care Corps, provides staffing. He said those homes don’t want people to get the impression that they are experiencing staffing problems. 

Almost all nursing homes have difficulty keeping adequate staff, especially because of high turnover among nursing aides who might not make much more than minimum wage, said Nicholas Castle, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.  Castle’s own research has found a link between lower quality and nursing homes that rely heavily on temporary staffingHigh use of temporary staffing can be an indicator of more significant issues at a home, running the whole way through top management, Castle said.

Nursing homes also typically pay a higher wage to nurses and aides from agencies, in return for agency staff being quickly available at the home’s convenience, Castle said. This can lead to a vicious cycle, by making it more difficult for nursing homes to increase wages and benefits and reduce the staff turnover that leads to use of the staffing agencies.

 

Nate Taylor wrote an article for The Coloradoan about a recent verdict for a family against nursing home involving a resident who fell because the nursing home refused to respond to the resident’s call light.   The fall led to her untimely death.  This happens all the time in nursing homes and is a result of understaffing.  The nursing home does not want to pay for adequate and competent staff because it will hurt their profit margins.  The staff becomes overworked and fails to respond to call lights.

While the family says her 87-year-old mother Doris Wolfe’s November 2007 death was the hardest thing she’s had to live through, a close second was the lawsuit her family endured suing Spring Creek Healthcare Center.  "We’re just a little tiny family of four against this huge corporation of nursing homes," Johnson said, referring to Spring Creek Healthcare Center’s parent company, Sava Senior Care. "You would never, ever, ever go through (a lawsuit) for any reason other than somebody had been harmed and you felt like you had to fight that fight. It was brutal."

Sava Senior Care owns at least 185 nursing homes across the country, including Spring Creek and Fort Collins Health Care Center.  They are represented by Lori Proctor.  We had a case against them last November when a resident fell three times in a 24 hour period.  The jury awarded us $200,000 in actual damages and $600,000 in punitive damages. 

Johnson said her mother stayed at Spring Creek for 17 days to rehabilitate following back surgery at Poudre Valley Hospital. Wolfe broke her ankle the day she was supposed to be sent home.

According to an investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Wolfe may have turned on her call light to request help to go to the bathroom. When Wolfe thought an "extended amount of time passed" and no one answered her request, she opted to try to walk toward her walker on her own and fell and broke her ankle.  Jay Reinan, a Denver lawyer who represented the Wolfe family, said Doris Wolfe did push the button.

"As a result of staffing deficiencies, Mrs. Wolfe was left to decide between soiling herself or attempting to go to the bathroom on her own, and that eventually led to her death," Reinan said. "With a lot of older folks, dignity is important, and that’s what happened to Mrs. Wolfe."

The health department investigation also indicated that Spring Creek X-rayed Wolfe’s ankle and found no fracture, but a family physician looked at the X-ray results and determined it was fractured in two places.

Johnson said she hopes the jury’s decision will lead to changes at the nursing home. "As scary and intimidating as it was, that’s why we did this – for change," Johnson said.

 

AOL had an article equating nursing homes with prison.  This may sound harsh but the people I speak to at nursing home typically feel that way.  The residents do not feel like the nursing homes want them to get better because they will lose money if the residents return home.  The most interesting aspects of the article are the comments under the story.

The article talks about Charles Todd Lee, a 67-year-old photographer who has been confined to a nursing home for five years, the victim of a stroke that paralyzed his left side.

"Most of the people come here to die, so you want to die," he said. "It is a prison. I can’t escape it."

Lee is a Medicaid recipient challenging the nightmare of the old and disabled: to be forced from comfort and familiarity into a nursing home.  Residents say the state is illegally forcing them to live in nursing homes when they should be able to live where they choose. Advocates charge that nursing homes, afraid of losing money, have successfully pressured politicians to make qualifying for community care more difficult. They have filed a federal lawsuit seeking class-action status on behalf of nearly 8,500 institutionalized Floridians.

Whether the litigation gets Lee and others moved out of nursing homes remains to be seen. But at the very least, it has illuminated the frustration experienced by older people or those with disabilities who say they’re shuttled into nursing homes when they are healthy enough to live at home, with relatives, or in other less institutional settings.

Americans who qualify for Medicaid and get sick or disabled enough to require substantial care typically have little problem gaining admission to a nursing home. But obtaining Medicaid-supported services at home, such as visits from an aide, is substantially harder and often involves a long waiting list, even though it may cost the government less.

Advocates for the elderly and disabled had hoped a 1999 Supreme Court case would change that. The Olmstead decision, as it is known, involved two Georgia women, both Medicaid beneficiaries with mental retardation who wanted community-based services, but were refused and were treated in institutions.   The high court ruled unjustified isolation of the disabled in institutions amounted to discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.   It said states must provide community services if patients want them, if they can be accommodated and if it’s appropriate.

States have been putting more money into community services, but not nearly enough to meet the demand of people who would rather stay at home than go to a facility. Nationally, state Medicaid payments for long-term community care have skyrocketed since the Olmstead decision, from $17.4 billion in 1999 to $42.8 billion last year, though spending on nursing homes and other institutions is still substantially higher.   A total of $59.5 billion was spent last year on institutional care through Medicaid.

The article also mentions John Boyd, 50, who has been in a nursing home for the last nine years. He hates them. He became a quadriplegic 36 years ago when he fell off a wall and broke his neck.
"I can’t choose what meal I want, I can’t have a visitor after 8 o’clock — it’s just like a prison without bars," he said. "People are making decisions for and about me that don’t even know me or even care about me. All they care about is the money they’re getting for me."
 

The West Virginia Record had an article explaining why a resident’s family sued the nursing home that neglected her and the parent company that controlled the budget, staffing, and equipment used at the facility.  

The article states that the woman died from injuries sustained in a Dunbar nursing home seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The suit is against Sunbridge Care and Rehab and the Sun Healthcare Group, Inc.

McCarty was admitted to Sunbridge Care and Rehab at the age of 79. Upon her admission, McCarthy suffered from dementia and could no longer handle her affairs. Her cognitive and physical skills were impaired. She died as a result of the injuries she sustained in a fall at the facility.

Among the injuries she sustained while at the nursing home were falls, weight loss, dehydration, malnutrition, constipation, a perforated bowel, infections, and ultimately, her death.  She suffered injuries, disfigurement, extreme pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

"The scope and severity of the recurrent wrongs inflicted upon Ferris McCarthy while under the care of the facility accelerated the deterioration of her health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process and resulted in physical and emotional trauma," the suit says.

Northwest Arkansas Times had an article about a resident who died only 6 days after getting admitted to a nursing home. She was only 63 years old.  Why did they agree to accept her if they couldn’t take care of her?

Donna Fay Snow dislodged her catheter line, entered the bathroom and fell. She bled to death while lying on the bathroom floor before she was found at 5: 35 a. m.   Many times the resident needs to go to the bathroom and hits the call light/bell but gets no response so they try to go to the bathroom without assistance.  In this case, the call light was not operating properly.

"It appears that the cord to her nursing call light was missing," the lawsuit states.

Snow had a port placement for dialysis in her upper left jugular vein that she was prone to pick, according to the complaint.  The nursing home and its staff knew about Snow’s medical condition and should have taken steps to care for her needs, the lawsuit alleges.

 

ABC News, the Denver Channel, had an article about a nursing home employee beating a sick and vulnerable resident of a nursing home.  This story disgusts me.  I hope they throw the book at this guy.  I hope he will never be able to work in the health care industry again. This kind of assault happens far too frequently and typically gets covered up by the nursing home or regulatory agencies.

The article mentions thar Kalen Randolph was arrested for nearly beating to death an elderly patient in his care. He physically assaulted a 74-year-old stroke victim at Ashley Manor.   "He struck him repeatedly. Turns out, he had serious bodily injury, according to one doctor. (Randolph) also then fled the scene leaving eight of these elderly patients at the home without supervision," said Aurora Police spokesman Detective Bob Friel.

Because of a 911 hangup call, police responded quickly to the attack at 3:40 a.m., but Randolph was not in the area.   "We know that he ended up meeting with a girlfriend and having sex in her car. And that’s what he was doing at the time when these elderly patients were left in the home," said Friel.

Randolph, a certified nurse’s assistant, is charged with eight counts of neglect and one count of second-degree assault.  Ashley Manor is a small facility for Alzheimer’s and brain injury patients. It has only nine patients.

Where was his supervisor?  Was he the only person working on third shift?  The nursing home should be held accountable for the actions of their employees.

KAALtv.com had a disturbing article on residents being abused in a Minnesota nursing home.  The conduct of these "professionals" is outrageous and disgusting.  They should be arrested and thrown in jail and never work in the health car eindustry again.  I would be surprised if anything happens to them.  They will probably get rehired easily knowing how the nursing home industry works.

The article mentions that an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health found that at least 15 nursing home residents were abused mentally and physically.  The abuse actually could have been prevented months earlier.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health 15 residents at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home were verbally and or physically abused by several nursing assistants, some of them are not even 18 years old.  The abuse was discovered back in December of 2007, but could have been earlier than that.

The 5 perpetrators were responsible for caring for the residents.  The Freeborn County Attorney’s office says dealing with vulnerable adults makes it difficult to prosecute when they don’t have statements from the victims.   It sounds like the prosecutor is making excuses for his own incompetence.  Why doesn’t he ask the nurses to take polygraph tests?

The Freeborn County Attorney says the five women face gross misdemeanor charges, which means only one year in jail, a $3-thousand dollar fine or both as a maximum plenty. There is no mention in the article if the nurses licenses have been revoked or if they work at another nursing home now.