Iowa’s Heartland Connection reported that Golden Age Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has been fined $15,000 following the death of two patients.  Inspectors found that the nursing home has repeatedly failed to provide the minimum level of care for residents at the facility.

The home was fined $8,000 in September after the death of a 64-year-old woman.  Now the fine of $15,000 is connected to the death, in November, of a 91-year-old woman. An 89-year-old woman also died around the same time.

 

 Politico had an interesting article on a major Medicare quality initiative, highlighted in The Journal of the American Medical Association, that has reduced readmissions by nearly 6 percent compared with similar communities over two years.  The 2010 health reform law includes penalties for hospitals that have particularly high rates of repeat admissions for three specific diseases. The law also creates incentives and programs through Medicare for hospitals to improve discharges and the transition from the hospital back to the community.

 The authors estimate that in an average community with 50,000 Medicare patients, spending $1 million on relatively simple steps to curb hospitalizations would save $4 million per year on hospital bills alone.   The solutions that these communities found included linking medical and social services.  They also made a point of teaching patients and families to do more self-care.

 
 

The Palm Beach Post reported on the judge’s order denying a new trial for the owners of Lake Worth Manor nursing home.  Last year, the owners were ordered to pay nearly $2 million to the family of a former patient — marking one of the largest jury awards statewide for a wrongful death case involving a nursing home.  In November, after a week-long trial, the case ended with a jury ordering them to pay $1,775,000 to Dahmer’s family and company officials vowing to appeal.

They filed a motion for a new trial with Circuit Judge Robin Rosenberg, but Rosenberg rejected the petition.  Dahmer’s family, meanwhile, has started an online petition at www.chiefwhiteowlwon.com aimed at forging nursing home reform in the state — a goal Dahmer’s widow Patricia said was her chief aim in suing the facility.

 

The Minnesota Star-Tribune reported that an assisted-living facility is being held responsible for the death of a resident who suffered head injuries from a fall and received no medical attention for days afterward.

The Health Department’s investigative report says that Lighthouse of Columbia Heights "failed to report changes" in the resident’s condition to a nurse and "failed to seek medical attention in a timely manner" after the resident fell in November 2011 and developed a sizable bump on one side of her head and a smaller one on the other side.

The resident was hospitalized three days later before dying on Dec. 5.  Her death certificate concluded the fall caused her death.  In citing the center for neglect, the report noted that the facility had no registered nurse available for unlicensed staffers to call after hours in the event of changes in residents’ conditions.
 

The New York times reported that millions of poor and elderly Americans may have to contribute more for health care under a proposed federal policy that would give states more freedom to impose co-payments and other charges on Medicaid patients. Under the proposal, a family of three with annual income of $30,000 could be required to pay $1,500 in premiums and co-payments.

The 2010 health care law extended Medicaid to many childless adults and others who were previously ineligible. The Supreme Court said the expansion of Medicaid was an option for states, not a requirement as Congress had intended.  Hoping to persuade states to expand Medicaid, the Obama administration is allowing state Medicaid officials to charge higher co-payments and premiums for doctors’ services, prescription drugs and certain types of hospital care, including the “nonemergency use” of emergency rooms.

With patients paying more, the federal government and states would pay less than they otherwise would.

 

According to the police report, Robert Shell, a resident at Oakridge Residential Care Facility in Inman, S.C., was charged with assault after beating two women with his cane. Shell accused a woman of stealing his money, so he struck her in the mouth with his cane which knocked her to the ground. While Shell continued to beat the victim with his cane another woman attempted to stop him. Shell starting beating her in the head with his cane.  It is difficult to determine if the resident was suffering from dementia or psychosis or if the woman stole his money.

 

 

I recently read two interesting articles that supports the contention that providing a living wage to CNAs improves the quality of care at nursing homes.  The Dickinson Press reported that the booming oil industry in North Dakota has caused a bidding war for workers resulting in a shortage of workers for nursing homes.  The average statewide pay for a certified nursing aide with experience at a nursing facility is $13.58 an hour.  Fast food workers are getting $18 an hour.

“The staffing is in crisis in many areas of the state, especially in northwest North Dakota,” said Shelly Peterson, president of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association, which represents nursing homes and care facilities. “We’re not staying competitive, and we’re below the market,” she added. “We need funding to ensure we have the staff.”

Last year, 14 percent of nursing facilities stopped admissions because of insufficient staffing, and 68 nursing facilities reported 751 openings as of July, according to figures from the North Dakota Long Term Care Association.

However, the higher wages improves the quality of the staff employed by the nursing home.  Inspections of North Dakota nursing homes resulted in the lowest number of serious deficiencies in a review of reports for all 50 states.  North Dakota nursing homes had one serious deficiency during the past three years, and had the lowest rate of serious deficiencies in the nation. North Dakota’s rate of serious deficiencies per nursing home was 0.01.

See article at Inforum here.

 

 Bakersfield Now reports that the a family did not hear about the death of their mother Mary Newsom until three days after the matter, while she was in the care of Corinthian Gardens Nursing Home. Corinthian Gardens cites lack of contact information as the reason for this lag in communication, despite Castilleja being down as the emergency contact. Other sources from the facility say that they attempted to contact Castilleja’s sister that Newsom was in the ICU, but the family denies any contact either time.

The real issue at hand here is the apparent lack of communication with family members who trust the care of their loved ones to nursing home facilities such as Corinthian Gardens. The lag in communication is inexcusable and speaks to the poor training and management of the facilities that are required to have up to date contact information for emergency contacts and family members.

It is necessary for facilities such as this to keep open lines of communication so families know the conditions of their loved ones and can further trust the care of them. The Castilleja family also notes that the care for their mother was sub-par, including the fact that she lost seventy-five pounds and was covered in bed sores while in the care of Corinthian Gardens.

This gross neglect of care for 86-year-old Newsom, speaks to the standards of nursing home facilities and the actions as business rather than care facilities. It is important for nursing home facilities to acknowledge their primary responsibility as a care facility and as a business secondary to prevent tragedies like this from happening again

 ProPublica released unredacted write-ups of problems found during nursing home inspections around the country.   For several months now, ProPublica has made redacted versions of this same information available in an easily searchable format in our Nursing Home Inspect tool. These versions, which reside on the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, Nursing Home Compare, sometimes blank out patients’ ages, medical conditions, dates and prescribed medications.

 

The agency has said the redactions are intended to balance patient privacy concerns with the need to inform consumers about the quality of care. ProPublica requested the unredacted reports because they are public records and because the added information can make them more useful.

For example, prescription information in the unredacted write-ups can help identify cases in which patients received medications such as antipsychotics that are dangerous for those with dementia.

Nursing Home Inspect allows patients and their families to quickly find nursing homes in their states and identify those with serious deficiencies and penalties in the last three years. The entire national collection of reports — listing more than 267,000 deficiencies — is searchable by keyword.

At this point, Nursing Home Inspect continues to link to only the redacted inspection reports. To search through the unredacted versions, you’ll have to download them and use a program like Microsoft Excel or a text editor that enables you to hunt for keywords or phrases.

The unredacted reports are grouped by CMS region and can be downloaded here. A list of states in each of the 10 regions is here.

 

 Effective December 1, 2012, Genesis HealthCare, one of the nation’s largest providers of skilled nursing and rehabilitation care, completed the acquisition of Sun Healthcare Group, Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Genesis HealthCare acquired Sun Healthcare for $8.50 per share of common stock in cash. Click here for more information on Genesis HealthCare.

Sun’s common stock, formerly traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol SUNH, ceased trading on December 3, 2012 in conjunction with the close of the acquisition.  Each outstanding share of Sun’s common stock has been converted into the right to receive $8.50 in cash, subject to applicable withholding taxes, if any.