In a report on the unbelievable abuse against nursing home residents, Fox 4 in Dallas details the shocking and alarming treatment that four residents suffered at the hands of caregivers.  The original report, in video format, shows videos and photographs of the abused. The photos are shocking, detailing injuries that arose from workers’ abuse and carelessness, but the videos are much worse.

Three videos detail the horrendous treatment that these gentle vulnerable residents suffered. Among the abuses were pinching, slapping, name calling, hair pulling, and general roughness. Minnie Graham suffered numerous abuses at the hands of her caregivers, two of whom consistently used unnecessary force when handling her, and one slapped her in the face multiple times in the course of a few minutes. Her helpless cry of ‘Somebody help me’ is heart wrenching. When she gathered the courage to say something back to her tormenters, the aide shoved his middle finger in her face. Mrs. Graham died about a month later. Her granddaughters, who had placed the hidden camera in her room and captured the abuse, said that they believe she died because of a broken spirit.

The authoritative body in Texas never charged Winters Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center with anything. Had the home been charged, they would have faced a paltry fine. Texas, like South Carolina, is among the lowest states in the nation for nursing home fines. If the facility agreed to pay the fine, another 35% would have been taken off. In Texas, the home is responsible for the abuse, and when paying the price, they get a discount.

The two aides who abused Mrs. Graham still held their licenses, one even worked at another nursing home. Fox 4 asked the police why one aide had never been arrested. The police response: We couldn’t find her. But Fox 4 found her – at the same address that was listed in her records. The lack of concern for prosecuting this woman, investigating the home, and enforcing the rights of nursing home residents reveals a terrifying lack of consideration for the elderly on all levels, the nursing home, the police, and even the department responsible for nursing home regulations and investigations.

Many times, reading the statistics, or looking at figures of beds and financial costs, it is easy to forget the reason that nursing homes exist: to care for those who cannot care for themselves. However, when the care that one is receiving more closely resembles abuse than assistance, it is clear that nursing homes need to constantly be reminded that their residents are people. They hear, they talk, they feel. They should be treated like the human beings that they are. Instead, they are treated as less than human, simply because they cannot fight back. Don’t let this become your mother, or your father, or you.

WISTV reported on another tragic case of neglect here in South Carolina. David Christmas lost his mother six months ago. He had spent years caring for her at his home before trusting Kingstree Nursing Facility to take care of her.   But they did not take care of her.  Instead, his mother ended up in a hospital bed with a broken hip with bruises from head to toe.   “My mother was placed on May the 7th of 2012,” said Christmas, “and on Oct. 17th of 2012, she was dead.”  Kingstree police investigated the assault to figure out what happened. Christmas says his mother told him she was attacked. All she could tell him was it was by two women.

The nursing home refuses to tell the family what happened.  And DHEC won’t substantiate anything.  WISTV attempted to review DHEC records.  “We went to DHEC to see if we could look at some inspection records. We signed in and were directed to the agency’s Freedom of Information Office where staffers asked us to file a formal request for some specific records
DHEC doesn’t post the records online.”

 

ProPublica investigated why so many people do not report medical errors.  “Many of the people who suffer harm while undergoing medical care do not file formal complaints with regulators. The reasons are numerous: They’re often traumatized, disabled, unaware they’ve been a victim of a medical error or don’t understand the bureaucracy.

It’s a collective problem because patient safety flaws that remain hidden, if they are not corrected, may be repeated.  Propublica has collected a staggering number of people harmed while undergoing medical treatment.  “A review of medical records by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general found that in a single month one in seven Medicare patients was harmed in the hospital, or roughly 134,000 people.  “An estimated 1.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced an event that contributed to their deaths,” the IG found, “which projects to 15,000 patients in a single month.”

A July report by the HHS inspector general’s office found that only 12 percent of harmful events identified by the office even met state requirements for reporting them. Compounding the problem: Hospitals themselves only reported 1 percent of the harmful events.

 

Knoxnews reported that a Maryville, Tennessee nursing home owned and operated by Kindred Healthcare, Inc. is facing sanctions after it allowed a resident to be raped and then failed to investigate and report.   The family was alerted when their mom told family members that she had been raped by a strange man.   A family member reported the claim to a nurse, who at the advice of the facility’s on-call doctor, transfered the resident to the hospital so a rape kit could be administered. The positive rape kit yielded an investigation by the local police department.

The state Department of Health and Human Services cited the facility for failure to; notify the resident’s physician, question male staffers, review video surveillance footage, increase facility security, and provide the resident with counseling.  The facility’s social worker added insult to injury when she claimed that she would have provided the resident with counseling “had I believed” the rape happened.   Sounds like Todd Akin’s legitimate rape comment has a follower.

The Corporate Director of Clinical Services of Kindred Healthcare Inc., the Kentucky company that owns the facility, responded to the investigation by admitting, “It wasn’t until we received the news from the police department of the positive rape kit that we found out our procedures and security wasn’t enough.”  Sadly, the nursing home’s Director of Nursing Services responded that the nursing home is unable to purchase the needed safety equipment to prevent a similar incident and cannot have staff do more frequent rounds and place addition security at the entrances and exits “without pulling from patient care.”

Kindred Healthcare Inc. is the operator of 226 nursing home and rehabilitation facilities across 28 states.

The Dallas News reported the tragic case of abuse suffered by Mynez Carter at the hands of nursing home employees at the Heritage Oaks Nursing Home.  The abuse and assault were recorded on video.   Daughters of Mynez Carter, 83, secretly installed a “nanny cam” in their mother’s room at the Heritage Oaks Nursing Home, which captured the abuse.  The relatives bought a surveillance camera that downloads images to a computer.  They hid the camera, smaller than a preschooler’s crayon, in her mother’s room.  Mynez Carter has Alzheimer’s disease and requires continuous care.

The family became suspicious when Carter had unexplained bruises, was acting fearful and dodged away from anyone trying to embrace her. They believe the hidden camera they installed in her room explains why.  The video showed rough treatment and abuse.  In one instance a worker putting a pillow under Carter’s head can be seen pulling her hair and pushing her head. In another instance a worker pinches her leg.

The Star-Telegram reported that CNA Maria F. Acosta was arrested for assaulting an elderly person.

Heritage Oaks received an overall score of 50 out of 100 on its last inspection by the department.
In the most recent comprehensive inspection of Heritage Oaks, conducted Feb. 10, 23 deficiencies under federal standards and 38 violations of state standards were cited.

 

The Des Moines Register reported that 2 nursing homes and their corporate masters were fined a combined total of $875,000.

One of the violators was HCM Management Inc., which runs 11 Iowa nursing homes, and it has agreed to pay $200,812 for allegedly employing workers who had been barred from working in federally funded health care facilities.

Separately, the inspector general’s office entered into a settlement agreement with Bethany Lutheran Home, a 121-bed Council Bluffs nursing home that apparently overbilled the government for Medicaid and Medicare therapy claims.  The settlement that they pay $675,000 to the federal government and enter into a so-called “corporate integrity agreement” that requires the home to provide additional staff training in determining what services can legally be billed by nursing homes to Medicaid and Medicare. It also creates additional layers of oversight that apply to Bethany Home’s billing practices and quality of care.

 

 

Wood TV 8 reported that a Wayland, Michigan nursing home is facing an investigation after Patricia Slornski began to question the suspicious circumstances surrounding her mother’s death.  Doris Robbins was resident of Laurels of Sandy Creek nursing home when she died suddenly.  The facility told Slornski that her mother had taken a afternoon nap and had simply never woken up.  When Slornski called the facility for more details she was put on hold for a lengthy amount of time and was then only allowed to speak to the facility’s lawyer.  This alerted Slornski to possible problems and motivated her to seek an investigation.

The report discovered that Robbins started to show signs of medical distress as early as ten o’clock the morning of her death. No one at the nursing home ever called a doctor and at 3:45 Robbins was discovered dead in her bed.

Robbins had previously put into writing her wish for doctors to do everything they could keep her alive. However, the facility ignored Robbins’ wish to be kept alive.  In addition to not calling a doctor for medical attention, the facility also did not preform CPR, call an ambulance, or notify police of the death.  Slornski is speaking out in hopes of getting answers for her mother’s death and preventing similar incidents from happening to other families’ loved ones.  “It’s not just about my mother because there are people like her that have a face, that are in jeopardy when rules and regulations are not followed.”

ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein & Tracy Weber report, "As the U.S. Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation Tuesday into makers of narcotic painkillers and groups that champion them, a leading pain advocacy organization said it was dissolving ‘due to irreparable economic circumstances.’" The American Pain Foundation, which ceased operations today, was the focus of a December investigation by ProPublica in the Washington Post that detailed its close ties to drugmakers.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee launched the investigation due to "an epidemic of accidental deaths and addiction resulting from the increased sale and use of powerful narcotic painkillers." In letters sent by Senators Max Baucus and Charles Grassley, they note the growing body of evidence that suggests that drug companies "may be responsible, at least in part, for this epidemic by promoting misleading information about the drugs’ safety and effectiveness."

"The group received 90 percent of its $5 million in funding in 2010 from the drug and medical-device industry," note the reporters, "and its guides for patients, journalists and policymakers had played down the risks associated with opioid painkillers while exaggerating the benefits from the drugs."

Ornstein & Weber add, "The senators are targeting a who’s who of the pain industry, seeking extensive records and correspondence documenting the links, financial and otherwise, between them and the makers of the top-prescribed narcotic painkillers. Letters went to three pharmaceutical companies, Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as five groups that support pain patients, physicians or research: the American Pain Foundation; American Academy of Pain Medicine; American Pain Society; Wisconsin Pain and Policy Study Group; and the Center for Practical Bioethics."

WSPA and the Spartanburg Herald had articles on the recent investigation into the serious allegations of sexual assault at Ellen Sager nursing home in Union, S.C.  Ellen Sager has had a history of problems.  The victim’s daughter accuses a nursing home employee of sexually assaulting her mother by exposing himself and making the woman touch his genitals. The 28 year old suspect entered the patient’s room, drew the privacy curtain, and then exposed himself. The woman said the man then had her mother touch his penis while he rocked back and forth.

The woman doesn’t want to be identified for fear of revealing her mother’s identity. An investigation has been launched. The Union County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the matter and has asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to assist with the investigation, Union County Sheriff David Taylor said.  SLED was asked to aid in the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest because the nursing home receives partial funding from Union County, Taylor explained.

Ellen Sagar Nursing Home — part of the Union Hospital District — has more than 100 long-term care beds and offers nursing home care, along with physical, speech and occupational therapy, according to Wallace Thomson Hospital’s website. The hospital and nursing home share the same board of trustees, according to the website.

Sexual exploitation is listed as the offense on the incident report, which contains little information about the alleged crime. Information about the victim, complainant and suspect was redacted from a copy of the report provided to the Herald-Journal.

 

The West Virginia Gazette had an article about the history of poor care provided at Heartland of Charleston in West Virginia.  Federal authorities revoked its’ Medicare and Medicaid funding in September after inspectors cited the home for several serious violations after the corporate owner/operator failed to fix the deficiencies that state inspectors found in June.

"The violations listed in the initial 156-page inspection report ranged from administrators failing to keep notifications of procedures and nurse availability posted to more serious cases where one patient bled profusely from a pressure sore after nurse’s aides failed to check whether a blood-clotting test had been performed.  A supplemental report lists several instances where the home’s administrators failed to properly investigate allegations of staffers abusing patients, including one case where a patient had accused two nurse’s aides of beating him in a shower room."

Other deficiencies listed in the inspection report included:

A resident, labeled as a fall risk, was found face down on the floor six hours after she was admitted.  Nurse’s aides had placed a fall mat on one side of the woman’s bed.

One resident had an unnecessary catheter for more than two months, while two more residents were not given proper treatment after doctors had declared them incontinent. The inspector found that one of those residents had been sleeping on a bed with a large wet ring stretching across the bottom sheet. 

Some residents were taking medications they did not need. According to the report, nurses continued to give one resident "sliding scale" insulin doses despite a pharmacist’s recommendation to stop. The pharmacist noted that the resident’s blood sugars were in "excellent control, " and detailed the facility’s need to closely monitor the resident’s future insulin intake. Staff had not checked the resident’s hemoglobin levels in months, according to the report.

Nurses found one resident on the floor at least five times in two months. In January, the elderly patient fell twice in a span of about 12 hours. Staff labeled some of the falls as "attention-seeking behaviors," according to the inspector’s notes.

Inspectors found that the home’s medications were not properly labeled.

One resident lost seven pounds in three days because staff had failed to provide dietary supplements a doctor had prescribed.

A resident with a right hand muscle contracture (a permanent shortening of a muscle or joint) was not fitted with a device designed to help minimize the loss of range of motion. The resident’s care plan noted a need for the device in February — four months before the June inspection.

Nursing staff took 10 to 20 minutes to answer several residents’ call lights.

One nurse’s aide was fired after intentionally unplugging a resident’s call light.  Administrators did not report the incident to Adult Protective Services.

A resident known as No. 228 was neglected.  The inspector could see dried blood on a cut above the 76-year-old woman’s left eye, which was still swollen and bruised from a fall she had while trying to pick up a bag of birdseed at about 2:30 that morning.  The woman’s nursing notes revealed that she was admitted to the facility at 8:30 p.m. the previous evening. A doctor wrote on her admission form that she suffered from dementia and had a history of falling.

The fall earned her a trip to the emergency room, where doctors assessed, cleaned and repaired her head wound, according to the inspection report. She was back in her bed at Heartland by 6:30 a.m. with a doctor’s instructions for follow-up care.

Since 2006, federal authorities revoked Heartland’s Medicare and Medicaid funding three times and have fined the home a total of $232,375.  Toledo Ohio-based HCR Manor Care, Heartland’s overarching corporate owner, operates hundreds of nursing homes across the country and lists assets of more than $8 billion. The company, which itself falls under the ownership of equity giant Carlysle Group, has attracted criticism for reportedly hiring too few staff at low pay in order to maximize earnings.