WLTX.com had a story about residents needing assistance after leaving a nursing home that was closed.   Clarendon Residential Care Center in Manning shut its doors recently.  Many people from that facility have moved to Sumter’s Northwoods, formerly known as Trinity Place. When they arrived, the director said their clothes were in such poor condition they had to be thrown out.

"At least it’s warm here," said new resident Robin Garrett.

Garrett is one of several residents thrilled about her recent move from the Manning facility. "It was terrible," said another new resident.  Several of those residents often did not have warm water, warm food, or much heat among other problems.

The faith based, non-profit houses low to moderate income seniors 55 years and older. They also serve those with physical and mental disabilities on a case by case basis. Barrineau says their newest residents are badly in need of new clothes.

"Many of them have no one to give them support so many of the residents who came here had very little and what they did have was in very poor condition and had to be discarded," said Barrineau.

The influx of people has also put a strain on their resources.

"We need toiletries. We are clearing our shelves very quickly of toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, razor blades, shampoo, that type of stuff."

"Many of the people we serve are the people our communities would like to forget. They have needs; they’re human beings as you and I. They’re moms and dads, uncles and aunts that are just not able to meet their needs."

If you want to help call Northwoods at 803.774.5700 or drop off donations at 1267 North Main Street in Sumter.

 

 

Here is a great editorial from the Louisville Courier Journal about the need for nursing home reform and lobbyists’ influence.

The real priorities of the General Assembly are on shocking display in the battle over a nursing home reform bill. The measure, House Bill 157, which is intended to set minimum standards for staffing, is similar to laws that exist in 37 states.

 

But the reform bill’s co-sponsor told The Courier-Journal’s Laura Ungar that its chances seem dim this session.

Meanwhile, over the past decade the nursing homes’ trade group has showered a quarter of a million dollars on Frankfort lawmakers, some of whom are persuaded — surprise — that the reform is unnecessary.

The claim of trade group president Ruby Jo Cummins Lubarsky would be laughable, if it were not so sad. The nursing home bill, she says, is not needed because, “Numbers don’t equate to quality. Staffing is very important in a facility, and there is no incentive for a facility to not meet the needs of its residents.”

Ask anyone who has had a friend or relative in a nursing home whether the issue of staffing isn’t a major one. Even in the best-run homes, it’s not uncommon for aides to be surly, dilatory or lack basic communication skills. And residents, many of whom suffer deep depression, dementia and other conditions, are often incapable of being heard when they complain. The powerful stench of feces and urine often greet the visitor at the door. Residents may lie or sit for hours in wet diapers or on fouled sheets — simply because there is not enough help, or because it’s not responsive enough.

Many nursing homes benefit handsomely from Medicare and Medicaid tax dollars. Many are for-profit operations that cut back on staff to pump up the bottom line. Federal regulations are considered inadequate by knowledgeable observers and by all but 13 states.

The elderly in Kentucky deserve better than that. And the legislators holding the bill back should have them on their consciences.
 

USA Today had a great article on the excessive number of nursing homes that receive taxpayer money but refuse to meet the minimum requirements for quality of care.  The requirements are basic and necessary services, and fundamental safety and food standards. Personal hygiene, responding to call bells, fresh foods, hot water, taking vital signs, etc—-basic stuff but because of greed and short-staffing one in five of the nation’s 15,700 nursing homes have consistently received poor ratings for overall quality.

More than a quarter-million patients live in homes given another set of low scores within the past year, according to data released today by Medicare, which first released the star ratings of the nation’s nursing homes in late 2008. The ratings are derived from inspections, complaint investigations and other data collected mostly in 2008 and 2009.

USA TODAY found that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have homes with poor ratings from one year to the next.  And dozens of those facilities are the only nursing homes for miles.

Late in the Bush administration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began assigning nursing homes one to five stars for quality, staffing and health inspections, as well as an overall score. Nearly all homes that repeatedly received few overall stars — one or two stars — were owned by for-profit corporations, the data show.

"The issue is the owners have to take responsibility for the consequences" of poorly performing homes, says Larry Minnix, CEO of American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

The newspaper’s analysis found the lowest-rated homes had an average of 14 deficiencies per facility, which can include quality-of-life measures and safety violations.

San Jose Mercury News had an article about a nursing home resident who was able to walk out of a nursing home.  Rosemary Nelson  was reported missing from a Concord nursing home over the weekend has been found dead.   Concord police say 63-year-old Nelson was found in a small culvert around 8 a.m. Nelson was reported missing Saturday night from a skilled nursing facility about three miles away from where her body was found.

Though officers had searched the area, police say Nelson’s body was discovered in an area that was difficult to see from a nearby road. The coroner’s office says Nelson died from exposure.

 

 

Philadelphia Daily News had an article about the sad death of Harold Chapman, a vet who was allowed to wander away from Delaware Valley Veterans Home.   Chapman, diagnosed with dementia and work-related brain damage, wore only pajamas when he stepped past a manned security desk at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 31, 2007, and into the winter cold. Two hours later, a staffer reported that she could not find Chapman, a Korean War veteran, in his room or anywhere else.  Ten hours passed before Chapman’s lifeless body was found a few yards from the state-run nursing home.  Details about Chapman’s death emerged in a lawsuit his daughters filed against the state.  Evidence produced for the lawsuit includes surveillance tapes of the former policeman leaving the home.

Records from the Delaware Valley Veterans Home show that there were multiple failures by staffers, first by not monitoring Chapman’s movements and, after he was belatedly discovered missing, by failing to immediately follow established emergency procedures. Staffers didn’t notify the home’s commander until after 9 p.m., more than three hours after Chapman disappeared. They didn’t call police until 9:15 p.m.

Surveillance tapes show that Chapman left his restricted area by riding the elevator with an employee who was not authorized to be in the building at that time. One staffer, one of the last to be seen with Chapman, abruptly quit his job when told he would be questioned. Called "a person of interest" by investigators, the aide later was discovered to have a criminal record for stalking.

"If he were any closer, they would have tripped over him," his widow, Barbara Chapman, said in a recent interview.  "It was New Year’s Eve, and everyone was getting ready for a party. He walked right by them," said Barbara Chapman, who viewed the tape. "He couldn’t find his way back, and got lost. They told me it was painless, but I later found out it can be a very horrible death."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has been investigating state veterans’ homes and has found serious deficiencies at two of them, in Hollidaysburg and Scranton. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rated those facilities below average in meeting inspection requirements, giving them the lowest possible ranking: one star out of five, while other homes in the system fared better.

The 1,632-bed state veterans health system, dating to the Civil War era, costs $165 million a year to operate. It is separate from the federal Veterans Affairs. The state facilities include nursing-home beds, personal care facilities and locked dementia units, where many of the serious violations occurred.

 

The Billings Gazette had an article proving that for-profit nursing homes provide less quality care than non-profit nursing homes.  A disproportionate number of Montana nursing homes rated below average by the government are operated by for-profit corporations, an analysis shows.   Almost 60 percent of the state’s skilled-nursing facilities awarded one or two stars by Medicare are for-profit entities, according to information available on the government’s Nursing Home Compare Web site.  For profits tend to cut corners and decrease staffing for profit and bonuses.

Medicare rates nursing homes on a five-star scale using data collected during annual inspections. Facilities are also scored on their staffing levels and how they perform on certain quality measures. Some 26 of Montana’s 90 nursing homes earned one or two stars in the most recent analysis. One star is “much below average” and two stars is “below average,” according to Medicare. 

“I don’t think it means a lot,” said Jerry Smyle, vice president of operations for Lantis Enterprises Inc., which owns 12 for-profit nursing homes in Montana.

Of course, he doesn’t.

The Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s medical malpractice law today, saying it violates separation of powers by allowing lawmakers to interfere with a judge’s ability to reduce verdicts.  The decision shows why judges and juries, not legislators, should decide merits of individual cases.  Illinois’ cap on malpractice damages was today ruled unconstitutional, illustrating why federal efforts to place arbitrary limits on the amount injured patients receive won’t fix America’s broken health care system.  The Illinois Supreme Court held that the legislature violated separation of powers by enacting the damage cap, thus intruding on the authority of judges to assure that jury verdicts conform to the evidence. The ruling was the third time since 1976 that the Illinois court had found a damage cap unconstitutional. 

"This decision is a victory for the families of patients who are killed or seriously injured by preventable medical errors,” said American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone. “For years, groups on the federal and state level have used scare tactics to restrict the rights of injured patients. But the facts show time and again that caps or similar one-sided measures do nothing to lower costs, cover the uninsured, or improve access to care. As the health care reform debate continues, the ruling in Illinois shows that judges and juries – not legislators – should decide the merits of each case and appropriate compensation for injured patients.” 

The plaintiff in this case, Abigaile Lebron, was born horribly impaired in October 2005, after the doctors failed to perform routine and necessary tests to treat her troubled pregnancy, which indicated a need for immediate delivery.  When she was finally delivered by Cesarean sections, Abigaile had suffered severe brain injury, cerebral palsy, cognitive mental impairment, and inability to develop normal neurological function.  Under the 2005 statute, any jury verdict in Abigaile’s favor would be capped at $500,000 against physicians found liable and $1 million against the hospital, if held liable.

 

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St. Louis’ STLToday.com had an interesting article about the change in demographics at today’s nursing homes including healthy mentally ill patients sharing homes with elderly vulnerable residents.   The conventional wisdom is that nursing home residents are frail and elderly. That’s not the reality.   Increasingly, adults with serious mental illness are being housed and cared for in  nursing homes.  Nationally, the number of mentally ill nursing home patients has jumped by 41 percent since 2002, an analysis by the Associated Press showed. In Missouri, it climbed by 76 percent. 

The article discusses the recent forced closure of Whispering Oaks after a well that supplied water froze, causing toilets to overflow. The facility had a history of fire and safety violations. State nursing home regulators tried to suspend its license last June. Whispering Oaks housed a number of patients with serious mental illness.   Several were relocated to another nursing home in St. Louis — owned by a psychiatrist — that also has been cited for safety violations in the past two years.

In theory, no one is supposed to be admitted to a nursing home unless he has disabilities that require extra care or supervision. That requirement is contained in the 1980s-era federal Nursing Home Reform Act.   But state officials estimate that about 2,500 people are in Missouri nursing homes primarily because they are mentally ill. They could be treated in a less restrictive — and less expensive — setting.  Missouri consistently has failed to fulfill its responsibilities to people with mental illness. The share of state funding for treating the mentally ill has been shrinking for decades.

Missouri could get federal money to help provide housing and treatment to patients with serious mental illness — but only if it came up with matching state funds, which the Legislature has refused to do.  The result of this neglect isn’t just tragedy for the mentally ill. In Illinois and other states, it’s also a tragedy for elderly nursing home patients and their families.

When the state budget is tight and elderly people are increasingly opting for home care, it’s tempting to see nursing homes as a short-term solution to the chronic lack of care for the mentally ill. It may be tempting, but it is wrong.

People with mental illness deserve housing and care in the communities where they live, not in facilities designed for the frail elderly.
 

NBC New York had the tragic and mysterious story about the investigation into and death of Adriana Neagoe.  Midway Nursing Home is facing a State investigation, and a lawsuit about how the 65-year-old resident could have dropped to the floor not once, but twice, the second time fatally.  Adriana Neagoe’s family had decided on Midway Nursing Home after she fainted in front of her church and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgery to treat it left her paralyzed.  Neagoe’s family says surgery left her able to move only one arm. So it was a surprise when she was injured in the spring of 2008 and they say nursing home staff told them she’d toppled off a bed surrounded by guard rails.

"She cannot fall because she could not move. She was paralyzed," says the victim’s nephew Cristin Buiciuc. What does he say really happened? The Romanian immigrant had to be mechanically hoisted up for bathing and so bed sheets could be changed. "They drop her from like five feet. They drop her on her head. That’s what she told me before she died," says Buiciuc.

After she hit the floor that second time, Buiciuc, who is also executor of her estate, says he was determined never to bring her back to Midway Nursing Home. It was August 8, 2008. Adriana Neagoe died six days later, still at Elmhurst General Hospital where she’d been rushed for treatment of severe head injuries, of what her family says were complications from them.

After her death, relatives kept their concerns private for more than a year, until the nursing home thought it would be a good idea to send a final bill, for $51,749. "The policy is clearly ‘kill them and bill them,’ " says family attorney Kenneth M. Mollins, "they negligently kill this woman. They hurt her first, then they hurt her bad enough to kill her and it did kill her the second time, and then they’re billing her."

Now the family has sued to reverse that huge final bill and for punitive damages, which means Midway officials might be compelled to explain what happened in their care–under oath. There’s little doubt that Midway was required to be reported to the State–and were not.

State Health Department files show Midway has a record in recent years of 43 complaints and incidents for every 100 beds–almost double the statewide average.

Midway Executive Director Moshe Kalter and Administrator Burt Kohn declined repeated requests for response to the family’s allegations.