Four women were in a Louisville courtroom Tuesday morning answering to charges from manslaughter to tampering with evidence and perjury. This after a resident died from falling from her wheelchair.  The hearing was nothing more than a formality. It lasted less than five minutes and four not guilty pleas were entered. But it is a case of life and death after an investigation lasting more than a year.

Detective Fogle started his investigation shortly after Lois Schaefer Bright fell from her wheelchair, fracturing her head at the Four Courts Senior Center in June 2006. She died two weeks later at a hospital.

The investigation found Four Courts employee Rachael Bowerman forgot to apply the wheelchair’s brake. Bowerman faces the most serious charges of second degree manslaughter and abuse or neglect of an adult. The manslaughter charge carries a prison sentence up to 10 years.

As for the other women now charged, Gail McWhorter faces perjury, tampering with evidence and reckless abuse or neglect of an adult. Tonita Thompson and Shaconda Daniel face perjury and tampering with evidence charges.

The state alleges that, after the fall, the trio picked Ms. Bright up, put her back in her wheelchair, wheeled her into the center, and placed her in bed before paramedics arrived.

When pressed about what changes have been made at Four Courts, no one would elaborate. WAVE 3 also discovered Gail McWhorter and Tonita Thompson still work at the nursing home. A spokesperson for Four Courts would not say if the other two women were fired or if they quit. All of the women had to post a $1,000 bond Tuesday to remain free.

This article shows how some employees will not cover up neglect and abuse in nursing homes unlie the majority who are more loyal to their corporate masters than the residents they are bound to protect.

June Dankert was 87 and in good health when she died May 10. For the previous two years, she lived at the Tendercare Nursing Home in Hastings.  Her family said she wrote dozens of letters to loved ones each week to help keep her mind sharp.

After the funeral, an anonymous phone call raised questions.

June’s daughter, Kay Trantham, told 24 Hour News 8 a woman from Tendercare called to tell the family how Dankert really died.  "When you go into a coma with no apparent reason, you do wonder," Trantham said. "Apparently, she was given her roommate’s hospice medication."

The caller told Trantham there was a delay in getting her mother to the hospital, followed by a cover-up.

Documents obtained by 24 Hour News 8 from the state Department of Community Health divulge more, and confirm dates and stories about "resident number 402" – Dankert’s resident number in paperwork provided from the state to Trantham.

The investigation shows multiple citations because Resident 402 was given medication meant for someone else. Resident 402 soon lapsed into a coma and died. Family and emergency room doctors were not notified of the mistake.

Records also show conflicting nurse notes on May 9, from the early morning to the afternoon when Resident 402 was finally taken to the hospital.

In response to the Trackback added to the Nursing Home Reform post by Civil Gideon I would like to offer my thoughts on the subject.  If nursing home regulators and agencies acted decisively  when problems appear, then much improvement could occur in overall care.  But that typically doesn’t occur.  In most states (especially South Carolina) the regulations are ineffective, or overly protective of the industry.  (In South Carolina, the state agency usually only decides that a complaint is "founded" if the facility admits the allegations; even then, enforcement is minimal).  Thus, in most states, when patient injury occurs from the facility’s negligence or abuse, litigation is typically the ONLY way of obtaining reasonable redress of any kind.

Here is a disturbing article about a common problem in nursing home facilities.  A Berea man was arrested Monday on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman in a local nursing home.

Matthew Bryant, 25, of Old Walleceton Road, allegedly entered the Berea Health Care Center on Richmond Road in Berea. Police still aren’t sure how Bryant gained access to the building at that time of the morning.  Why weren’t the doors locked? Where was the supervision?

Basically what happened is that the employees of the nursing home heard a patient scream.  When they went to where the patient screamed, they observed a white male run out of the room and run out a door.

The police department had received a call about an hour and a half earlier about a man matching Bryant’s description “peeping in windows” at another nursing home. Somebody there identified the man as Bryant.  A supervisor did a photo line up and took it back to the nursing home and they identified Bryant in that.

 

This is an incredible article.  They should be arrested for leaving a vulnerable adult in this condition.

A northeast Nebraska care center has been fined for leaving an elderly resident alone and unattended.

A report, done by the state department of Health and Human Services, says Golden Living Center, in O’Neill, Nebraska, discharged a resident because the individual’s family couldn’t pay for the care.

The report says the facility contacted their family… and subsequently transported the resident to their family’s home. But, the report says, when they got there, the family refused to accept the resident… saying they did not have the requisite expertise to care for their loved one.

The facility’s representative placed the resident in a lawn chair, under a tree, at the family’s home… and left.

The state fined Golden Living Center a measly $3,000 and placed the facility on probation for six months.

Nursing home operators value loyalty and good nursing leaders, the latest results from the nation’s most in-depth nursing-home survey indicate. The national median salary for directors of nursing (DONs) at nursing homes jumped 5.2% this year, up to $72,515. Similarly, assistant DONs enjoyed a 4.9% rise, up to $60,022.   Both increases are much higher than the standard increase in other similiar positions.

Administrators, meanwhile, saw their national median salary increase by a less robust 3%, to $82,400. Assistant administrators’ median pay climbed to $59,357. However, compared to other type of white collar workers, this increase is substantial.

The figures come from the newly released 2007-2008 AAHSA Nursing Home Salary & Benefits Report. More than 2,500 facilities took part in the 30th annual survey, which is published by Oakland, NJ-based Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service and supported by both major nursing home associations.

I saw this article about a woman who was a resident of a Tennessee nursing home where they found maggots in her ear. How could this happen?  Who is checking her?  It is disgusting and unacceptable.  I’m surprised the facility isn’t claiming it is part of her care and treatment!

A Health Department investigation revealed that a resident at Johnson City nursing home had maggots in her ear because of a hygiene problem at the facility.

Records show the woman suffered from dementia and needed assistance with dressing, eating and bathing. But attendants at the Lakebridge Health Care Center had not washed her hair since July 23 when they found the maggots on August 4.

The state found the home deficient in providing daily hygiene to patients and is requiring a plan of action to fix the problem.  A Lakebridge administrator says that the woman did have her hair washed regularly, but that staff had failed to always record it.   The Administrator should know the Nurse’s Axiom:  If it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done." All nurses are trained this way and most good facilities have a written policy to that effect.

 

The Bush Administration has decided to change the Medicare rules to prevent payment of "preventable" injuries.  Who decides what is preventable? How is that decided?  Here is part of the article I read:

In a significant policy change, Bush administration officials say that Medicare will no longer pay the  costs of treating preventable errors, injuries and infections that occur in hospitals.

Under the new rules, Medicare will not pay hospitals for the costs of treating certain “conditions that could reasonably have been prevented.”  

Among the conditions that will be affected are bedsores, or pressure ulcers; injuries caused by falls; and infections resulting from the prolonged use of catheters in blood vessels or the bladder.

In addition, Medicare says it will not pay for the treatment of “serious preventable events” like leaving a sponge or other object in a patient during surgery and providing a patient with incompatible blood or blood products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that patients develop 1.7 million infections in hospitals each year, and it says those infections cause or contribute to the death of 99,000 people a year — about 270 a day.

“Hundreds of thousands of people suffer needlessly from preventable hospital infections and medical errors every year,” Ms. McGiffert said. “Medicare is using its clout to improve care and keep patients safe. It’s forcing hospitals to face this problem in a way they never have before.”

In most states, Ms. Foster said, hospital records do not show whether a particular condition developed before or after a patient entered the hospital. Under the new rules, she said, hospitals will have to perform more laboratory tests to determine, for example, if patients have urinary tract infections at the time of admission.

Some of the complications for which Medicare will not pay, under the new policy, are caused by common strains of staphylococcus bacteria. Other life-threatening staphylococcal infections may be added to the list in the future, Medicare officials said.

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I saw an article about resident abuse that is common and difficult to prove without the testimony of an honest employee of the nursing home.  The industry has labeled injuries caused by abuse to be "injuries of unknown origins".  Perhaps, they should polygrapg the employees who provided care and treatment to the resident to determine how it happened.

Peggy LeNoir expected to celebrate her father’s birthday, but instead was looking at disturbing pictures taken from his nursing home bed.

"I seen a black eye. He got a bruise on top of his head. He got bruises on his back. His back is bruised up and swollen and I see marks on his leg." says LeNoir.

When he came here he was walking and talking, now he can hardly move. She had already complained about the bed sores he was suffering. Then Peggy got a call Monday to check on her dad. What she saw shocked her.  The nursing home said her father may have fallen. But Peggy says how, since he can’t walk, talk and can barely move.   If he fell, who picked him up? Why didn’t they do an incident report then or notify the family as required by the regulations!

More frustrating, she says a staff member told her to leave and even called police.
Peggy’s brother, Randy, says it’s just time for some straight answers.

USA Today has an interesting but sad article about how some families choose to move their loved ones into Mexican nursing homes because of the poor care from the for profit chains in America.

For $1,300 a month — a quarter of what an average nursing home costs in Oregon — residents get a studio apartment, three meals a day, laundry and cleaning service, and 24-hour care from an attentive staff, many of whom speak English.

As millions of baby boomers reach retirement age and U.S. nursing home costs soar, Mexican nursing home managers expect more American seniors to head south in coming years. Mexico’s proximity to the USA, low labor costs and warm climate make it attractive.

An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 American retirees already live in Mexico, many of them in enclaves like San Miguel de Allende or the Chapala area, says David Warner, a University of Texas public affairs professor who has studied the phenomenon. There are no reliable data on how many are living in nursing homes, but at least five such facilities are on Lake Chapala alone.

"You can barely afford to live in the United States anymore," said Harry Kislevitz, 78, of New York City. A stroke victim, he moved to a convalescent home on the lake’s shore two years ago and credits the staff with helping him recover his speech and ability to walk.

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