The Fort Mill Times had an interesting article discussing how nursing homes are no longer for those who are elderly.  Many young people live in them when they become disabled.  The article talks about  Lori Hagedorn.  She had worked at nursing homes before she started living in one at age 45.

She suffers with chronic medical problems.  She is part of a growing population of younger people who need the long-term care, skilled nursing and structure offered in a nursing home.

Two decades ago, about 1 percent of nursing home residents were under the age of 65.  Now it’s closer to 10 percent, according to statistics from the Department of Social and Health Services in Washington state.

"It used to be a place where the aged went," Vande Merwe says. "Now 80 percent of new admissions are coming for short-term rehabilitation." Some eventually return home or go to an assisted living setting.  "It’s not that uncommon because we have a gap in the health care system between the hospital and the nursing home. People like Lori are younger, but they need the medical care. The structure and support of the staff helps people to remain as independent as possible."

Vande Merwe expects the upswing in younger patients to continue.  Some children are in nursing homes because of severe birth defects and disabilities. Other young people have diseases with no cure, such as multiple sclerosis, and may reside in nursing homes for many years.

Activity directors say keeping younger residents active and stimulated can be a challenge. For years, most programs were geared to a different generation. The new clientele would rather surf on the Internet, send e-mails or play video games.

 

A night shift nurse accused of sexually abusing patients at an Ohio nursing home entered a plea arrangement for 12 1/2 years in prison. John Riems entered an Alford plea to four counts of sexual battery and one count of gross sexual imposition. In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction but does not admit guilt.

Riems, 50, was videotaped last January telling authorities that he abused about 100 patients at various nursing homes since the 1980s.  Defense attorney Troy Wisehart tried to keep the videotape out of the trial arguing that Riems was coerced into the confession by aggressive detectives.

I hope he has to serve every minute of that time.  You can find the entire story here.

WTOC in Savannah, Ga. had a story about a nursing home employee charged with elder abuse and stealing the identities of as many as 40 residents from nursing homes.  Police say Tamara Smith used her job as a certified nursing assistant to gain access to patients’ personal information. She is accused of using the information of 43 former and current nursing home residents to buy computers, cell phones, and open credit cards. The victims range in age from 60 to as old as 100.

For every victim over the age of 65, Smith is being charged an additional count of elder abuse.  "You wonder how someone can do this to people in nursing homes who have nothing at that point in their life anyway," said Thunderbolt police chief Irene Pennington. "She had been getting away with it, but it took good investigations to catch up with her."  I certainly don’t agree with Chief Pennington’s comments that residents "have nothing at that point in their life anyway."

The investigation started 15 months ago after a single complaint to police from one resident’s family. The number of victims continues to grow and more arrests are expected.

How could this happen?  Why didn’t the Administrator realize what was going on? 

WSOCTV.com had an article about a Rock Hill, S.C. charged with stealing money from patients at the nursing home where she worked.   Melissa Kelly was the business manager at Magnolia Manor on Murrah Drive in Rock Hill. She has been charged with one count of forgery, and one count of elder exploitation.  Magnolia Manor is part of the chain of THI and Fundamental nursing homes.

Kelly was fired from her job last fall after an internal audit uncovered more than $65,000 of company checks that were forged and then cashed. "The more we dug, the more blatant it became," said detective David Hanoka who spent four months investigating the case.

Hanoka said dozens of nursing home patients lost money since April of 2006 without ever knowing it.  Many of the nursing home residents on Medicaid or Medicare have small trust accounts used for spending money. The money is often petty cash that’s used for small day to day items. Those are the accounts police say were stolen from.

"This money was never distributed to the individuals it should’ve been distributed to," Hanoka said.

Instead, police believe Kelly forged and cashed the checks. Police said it’s not clear how much of the missing $65,000 she is responsible for. Police focused their investigation on just 14 cases they say took place in 2008.

The state attorney general’s office will continue the investigation, and prosecute the case.

Joy Patterson, the administrator at Magnolia Manor, told the media that the company was not ready to release a statement yet, but would soon.

Tulsa World had an article about the recent arrest of a nursing home employee.  Edward Lee Marshall was arrested for committing a sexual offense on a blind and physically handicapped patient, and caretaker abuse.

“The complaint was that Mr. Marshall was giving a patient a bath and he was actually masturbating the person,” Choate said. “The incident was reported by another employee who allegedly saw the incident.”

Scott Pilgrim, Southtown Nursing owner, tried to explain away the sexual assault and battery.

“Our nurse saw something that might have been inappropriate and this was a male to male situation. … Because we felt something might have been inappropriate, we called the police to investigate,” Pilgrim said.  “There might be nothing to this, but we felt the authorities must make that call,” Pilgrim said. “Because our resident safety and well being is what we stand for, we took this action.”

Marshall worked as a restorative aide and provided various types of therapy to residents, but nursing home owner Scott Pilgrim said Marshall is no longer employed there.

In 2006, Marshall was arrested for driving under the influence and other traffic offenses, jail records show.

How long had he worked at the nursing home? Did any other resident ever complain about his care?  Why did they fire him if they think nothing happened?  Did they offer to give him a polygraph test?

 

 Richard Wagamese had a revealing story for the Calgary Herald about accountability and the preventable death of a friend’s loved one at a nursing home.  Below are excerpts and a summary of that tragic story.  The mother of one of his friends was found frozen to death outside the nursing home the day after Christmas. She was 84 year-old and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.   Her name was Juliette (Julie) Bombardier and she was a great-grandmother, grandmother, wife, friend, confidante and valued member of her community.

Mr. Wagamese mentions that Julie inexplicably managed to get out of doors that were ostensibly locked, but are often propped open by staff who pop outside for a smoke. In the early morning hours, dressed in a nightgown, she froze to death in a snowdrift, a few yards from that door. She died there, alone and unprotected. Nearly three hours after the search for her was initiated, my friends were there when she was discovered.

The real tragedy according to Mr. Wagamese in Julie’s death is not the loss itself.  It’s the refusal of the company that runs the nursing home to take responsibility. Instead of saying, "there was a failure in our system that resulted in a death and we’re taking immediate steps to prevent it happening again" and honouring the loss of Juliette Bombardier, they rely on the standard "we’re conducting our own internal investigation". There doesn’t need to be an investigation. The system failed. Period.

The obfuscation and shrugging off of direct responsibility is a dishonouring of Julie’s death and a dishonouring of her family’s grief.

They tell us that all the doors were locked until staff had finished their search of the building.  What they are asking all of us to believe is that an 84-year-old dementia patient managed to negotiate her way through a secure facility, passed trained supervisory staff, out a locked door and then somehow managed to lock it behind herself again and froze to death.

To suggest we believe that is a dishonouring of everyone.  There are a lot of seniors in care in such facilities all across the country. They are not just Alzheimer’s patients, stroke victims, addled, debilitated, frail, helpless or needy. They’re somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s mother and somebody’s friend. They are not numbers in a ledger, not a part of somebody’s financial bottom line — they are a part of our collective history and they are valuable.

Richard Wagamese, a former Calgary Herald columnist, is the 2007 recipient of the Canadian Authors Association Award for fiction and a former National Newspaper Award-winning columnist.

 

STLtoday.com had a tragic story about the rape and abuse of a resident at the hands of a nursing home employee.  Why aren’t these people checked and supervised?  How can this happen to the most vulnerable citizens?  How many others were raped and abused by this villian?  Was a criminal background check done?

The accused employee was a former janitor at a nursing home in Normandy. He has been accused of raping an elderly resident. Santonio McCoy of St. Louis is charged with forcible rape. He is accused of attacking a woman at the home.

McCoy turned himself into Normandy police on Wednesday last week. He is being held in lieu of a $200,000 cash bond. McCoy had worked at the nursing home for about a year, Madigan said. The attack was interrupted when three workers at the home walked by.
 

WBALTV.com had a story about a nursing home patient who was threatened with eviction from her facility because she couldn’t pay her bill has been allowed to stay.  The WBAL TV 11 News I-Team detailed the story of Melanie Conaway, a multiple sclerosis patient. A nursing home called Future Care Northpoint in Dundalk was about to discharge her against her wishes because of an alleged outstanding bill.

Conaway said she wondered about her future, where she would live and who would handle her health care needs. "There is nothing I can do," Melanie Conaway told I-Team reporter Barry Simms on Thursday. "All they did was come in and say they haven’t received the full payment, so I can’t stay here any longer."  But under a last-minute settlement, Conaway will remain at the nursing home.

The whole dispute focused on a $300 a month payment — alimony Conaway is supposed to receive from a divorce settlement. The funds are considered income and must be used for her nursing home stay, Simms reported.

By law, Future Care may have the legal (but not the moral) right to evict Conaway because the unpaid debt had grown to $2,500, but the nursing home finally agreed (after the story went public) to give Legal Aid time to pursue a claim against her ex-husband and possibly garnish his wages.

The Tampa Tribune had an article about a resident missing from a nursing home.  How can the facility allow a vulnerable elderly person to wander way from the facility?  Who is supervising the residents? Why didn’t the door alarm go off?  Or did the staff fail to respond to the alarm?  Were they short-staffed?

A search is under way for Carl Seiden who disappeared from The Fountains, his assisted living facility in North Tampa.  Seiden suffers from dementia.  The sheriff’s office describe him as 6 feet tall with a thin build and beard. He walks with a cane and was last seen wearing brown pants and a beige shirt, the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (813) 247-0929.
 

Colleen Jenkins of the St. Petersburg Times had an article on the conditions of abused residents and the failure to prosecute the health care providers to the fullest extent of the law.  The article explains the living conditions in Daphne Jones’ boarding home in West Tampa.   After finding elderly and disabled people crammed into windowless bedrooms without air conditioning or enough drinking water in August 2007, authorities arrested Jones on 18 felony counts of adult abuse.  Jones pled guilty to a single misdemeanor count, for which she will serve six months of probation and 25 hours of community service. Her attorney said the whole ordeal had been overblown.

Prosecutors offered little explanation for the lack of a jail sentence.

Jones had pulled a bait-and-switch scheme. Some residents’ family members said they thought their loved ones were living in Jones’ 6,000-square-foot gated mansion in Temple Terrace. The property was licensed by the state as an adult family care home.  The families were upset to learn their loved ones had been moved to the boarding house, sharing one bathroom and sleeping on bunk beds.

Tampa police officers arrived on Aug. 9, 2007, after receiving a tip about neglect.  The air conditioning had been broken and the residents were dehydrated.   Goudie said she took the deposition of one former resident who had bad things to say about the boarding house. The woman substantiated the information about the air conditioning.

Elrod Curry, 64, of Plant City, said his family had suspected that "something strange" was going on at the boarding house where his sister, Rosa Wilson, lived, but she couldn’t tell them much because her mind came and went. He said Thursday that Jones’ sentence seemed too light.

In 2003, a federal judge sentenced Jones to 24 months of probation and ordered her to pay $41,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration after she misrepresented her financial situation when applying for benefits for her son, who has cerebral palsy.

After her most recent arrest, the state Agency for Health Care Administration fined Jones $20,000 and revoked her license for not cooperating with the agency.

On Thursday, she pleaded guilty to culpable negligence. That charge resulted from one elderly female resident who had to be hospitalized for severe dehydration after police arrived.