Charles Banas is a decorated World War II bomber pilot. He hoped to attend the 75th D-Day commemoration overseas. However, he became sick when contaminated water from a burst sewage pipe over Banas’ bedroom last June was never properly addressed or cleaned by the staff.  Banas also had bedsores and became permanently disabled. The family says he’s now facing eviction after living at Westminster Nursing Facility for the past 16 years.

It went from pneumonia to them neglecting, actually leaving him unattended in their care facility for such a long time that he fell and broke his pelvis,” Banas’ son Mark said.  Mark Banas says independent tests done by a private company found fecal matter and high levels of mold spores in his father’s unit.

“The family believes had the facility addressed the leak in a timely basis, had appropriately cleaned the unit, that the substance that caused the eventual affection would not have happened,” said Steven Levin, the Banas family’s attorney.

In May, Westminster filed suit to evict his father, despite a life care contracted signed in 2003 and more than $1 million already paid to the nursing care facility.

According to the eviction lawsuit, Westminster claims the elderly Banas owes them more than $50,000. His son and attorney say Westminster actually owes them money, over-billing Banas for years.

“This case is really a parade of horribles,” Levin said.

Now, both battles may end up in court. Banas’ children just want it settled and their father cared for properly.

“I think this is all very sad and confusing for him whereas it just makes me angry,” Mark Banas said.

A Westminster official says the facility has not yet been served with the neglect lawsuit, so he couldn’t comment on those claims. He also said he couldn’t discuss why Westminster was suing to evict Banas.

WMBF recently reported that construction started on a $56 million nursing home for veterans in Florence, S.C.  It’s one of two new facilities being built across the state to give veterans and their families more access to care.  State and local leaders said the project is a big deal not only for veterans and their families, but the entire community.

The state of the art facility will house 104 veterans with their own private bedrooms and bathrooms.  The community center for the nursing home includes a large activity space, chapel, physical therapy area and staff space.

Florence County has around 10,000 veterans in the area alone.  He said the new nursing facility is a step to giving all veterans a good quality of life in the place they call home.

The Post and Courier reported on the six nursing homes in South Carolina identified as consistently poor-performing in a congressional list previously kept secret by a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Riverside Health and Rehab in North Charleston is the only facility in the state given the full SFF designation. The other five South Carolina facilities listed in the report were listed as candidates for the SFF program:

  • Commander Nursing Center, Florence
  • Blue Ridge of Sumter
  • Life Care Center of Hilton Head
  • Compass Post Acute Rehabilitation, Conway
  • PruittHealth — Blythewood, Columbia

The list, current as of April, was released to the Senate Special Committee on Aging at the beginning of June after a bipartisan inquiry from Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican.

“It is outrageous that we continue to hear stories of abuse and neglect in nursing homes that do not live up to these high standards,” Casey said in a news release. “Choosing a nursing home is a difficult and often painful decision to make. Individuals and families deserve to have all the information available to choose the facility that is right for them.”

Homes that meet safety and health guidelines are typically inspected every nine to 15 months. If a facility is classified as a Special Focus Facility, however, it must be inspected every six months and must graduate from the SFF designation within 18 months or it risks losing the ability to offer Medicare or Medicaid.

The list of SFF-designated facilities has previously been made publicly available. But until now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had shielded from the public eye the list of roughly 400 facilities that were considered for the program but didn’t make the cut.

 

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported on a recent lawsuit that allege staff members at Paramount Senior Living at Seven Fields nursing home took lewd photos of a resident suffering from dementia and shared the photo on multiple social media platforms.  The lawsuit claims staff at Paramount Senior Living at Seven Fields took a photo of an 83-year-old woman referred to in the court filing by the initials “S.D.”

The photo, allegedly shared on Snapchat, showed the woman naked below the waist and sitting in a shower chair.  The photo showed the woman attempting to cover herself indicating she knew she was being recorded. The Snapchat was allegedly overlaid with a graphic that said “Winter Fail.”

The photo came to light only after an anonymous tip was made to the Butler County Area on Aging, and the woman’s family was unaware of the incident for three days.

“Inexplicably, despite this heinous photograph and/or video being shared with various members of (Paramount) staff … no staff member came forward” and reported the violation, according to the lawsuit, nor did anyone try to intervene when the photo was taken.

The lawsuit further alleged Paramount officials hindered the county agency’s investigation by claiming the woman didn’t appear in the photo and, later, that the photo wasn’t shared publicly. The lawsuit said neither is true.

 

WSPA recently reported on one of the scarier facts about the nursing home industry:  Nursing facilities fail to report thousands of serious cases of potential neglect and abuse of Medicare beneficiaries even though the federal government requires such reporting.

Auditors with the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office investigated incidents where the patient was taken straight from a nursing facility to a hospital emergency room. Scouring Medicare billing records, they estimated that in 2016 about 6,600 cases reflected potential neglect or abuse that was not reported as required. Nearly 6,200 patients were affected.

Mandatory reporting is not always happening, and beneficiaries deserve to be better protected,” said Gloria Jarmon, head of the inspector general’s audit division.

Overall, unreported cases worked out to 18% of about 37,600 incidents in which a Medicare beneficiary was taken to the emergency room from a nursing facility in circumstances that raised red flags.  CMS agreed with the inspector general’s recommendations to ramp up oversight by providing clearer guidance to nursing facilities about what kinds of episodes must be reported, improving training for facility staff, requiring state nursing home inspectors to record and track all potential cases and monitoring cases referred to law enforcement agencies.

Neglect and abuse of elderly patients can be difficult to expose. Investigators say many cases are not reported because vulnerable older people may be afraid to tell even friends and relatives much less the authorities. In some cases, neglect and abuse can be masked by medical conditions. Investigators found that nursing facility staff and even state inspectors had an unclear and inconsistent understanding of reporting requirements.

The nursing facilities covered by the report provide skilled nursing and therapy services to Medicare patients recovering from surgeries or hospitalization. Many facilities also play a dual role, combining a rehabilitation wing with long-term care nursing home beds.

 

 

More than 1 million Americans have lost health coverage since 2016, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office finds.  The CBO estimates that the number of Americans without insurance has risen from 27.5 million in 2016 to 28.9 million in 2018, an increase of 1.4 million Americans going uninsured.

The report follows other studies, all suggesting that America’s uninsured rate is rising under President Trump, whose administration has passed new rules that make it more difficult to enroll in coverage.

Much of that increase is concentrated in the Medicaid program, where the Trump administration has approved new requirements that make it more difficult for low-income Americans to enroll in the program.  We also have more concrete evidence that new rules requiring Medicaid enrollees to work have led to lower enrollment in that public program, which is meant to serve low-income Americans. More than 18,000 people there have lost coverage since the Trump administration approved that new rule, which requires Medicaid recipients to work at least 80 hours per month (or participate in other qualifying activities) in order to receive their benefits.

There is evidence that the discussion of repeal may be depressing insurance enrollment. A YouGov poll at the end of 2017 found that 31 percent of Americans believed Republicans had successfully repealed the Affordable Care Act. More recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 17 percent of Americans believe the law has been repealed and 14 percent aren’t sure if it’s still standing. With that many Americans believing Obamacare doesn’t exist, it makes sense that you’re seeing lower sign-up rates in both the individual markets and Medicaid.

KWQC had a recent article about the benefits of robot pets which are becoming more common in retirement homes. They’re not as much responsibility as a regular pet, and can bring a lot of joy to the residents.  Where it might have gotten lonely before, now there’s a friend. This can help residents who suffers from agitation or dementia with behavior issues.

“When a person is in a room by themselves basically, it’s nice to have something that you feel is there with you,” said Clair Odell, whose daughter is a resident. “The sounds, the purring, the mewing seems to be very soothing.”

Odell remembers the first time he met his daughter’s pet.

“When we went to see her and her new cat, the excitement and the joy that she had when she was showing it off and showing off its antics,” he said.

Officials at Ridgecrest Village say the next step is getting pets with reminders in them for residents – letting them know about appointments and when to take their medicine.

WCVB had an interesting article on the need for regulations and standards in assisted living facilities especially consumer protections because residents lack rights afforded to other tenants and should be covered under regulations in the attorney general’s office.  Thousands of complaints are filed against assisted living facilities, with many focused on staffing issues and a lack of training. Residents often also face an array of fees, for everything from laundry to TV and incontinence products.

Matthew Albanese, head of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), told the Committee on Elder Affairs that there’s evidence that the state’s aging population served by assisted living facilities needs stronger protections that are afforded under landlord-tenant laws.

Lawmakers and elder advocates are also focused on the ongoing contraction in the nursing home industry, where closures are displacing residents and workers. The Senate’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal calls for a task force to examine the industry, an idea first put forward in the House budget.

 

WHAS11 had an incredible story about two friends who really made a difference in the lives of nursing home residents.  Sandy Cambron and Shannon Blair provide baby dolls to nursing residents suffering from dementia.

It began as a gift to Sandy Cambron’s mother-in-law.  “We would buy her a TV, buy her stuffed animals and nothing would work and one day, we were out shopping and I told my husband, maybe we should get her a baby doll,” Sandy Cambron said.  It made all the difference.

“She loved it. She took that baby and slept with it, had meals with it. You could see the biggest difference with her. She would not leave that baby. It was always by her side. When she passed away, we buried the baby with her,” Cambron said.

Then, last year, when her friend, Shannon Blair, was going through a similar experience with her own mother, Sandy offered a baby doll.

“It was actually my mom’s roommate’s response. She immediately reached out and started crying. I went back to Sandy the next day and I said, I get it. I get why you wanted to give my mom a baby,” Blair said.

“300 babies later, we are boomin’. We are visiting as many places as we can,” Blair said. They hand out baby dolls, stuffed puppies and kittens. Each doll is color coordinated and wrapped in the softest of blankets.  They’re changing lives one baby doll at a time.

“It is just a baby doll, but whatever emotions it stirs up, it’s all happy. It takes them back to a joyful time. It’s happy and it’s sad at the same time,” Blair said.

Pearl’s Memory Babies runs purely on donations. Shannon and Sandy buy the baby dolls and shop all the bargains they can find to get the outfits, blankets, and even the diapers. If you’d like to donate or learn more, you can visit their Facebook page or website.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it will post a monthly list of underperforming nursing homes. CMS said that roughly once a year, it performs a health and safety survey of all nursing homes that care for Medicare and Medicaid patients. More than 500 facilities are identified with significant health and safety issues, but less than 20 percent are subject to additional oversight.  CMS maintains the list of facilities that perform poorly on the survey, but only public discloses which nursing homes are receiving the oversight. That’s despite the two groups “being indistinguishable” in terms of quality, according to the report.

Dr. Kate Goodrich, CMS’s chief medical officer, said this lack of surveillance is due to funding limitations and an increase in the number of long-term care facilities.  “That has made it challenging … to do all the work that is necessary to oversee these nursing homes,” said Goodrich. “But we do believe that if we had an increase in our budget, that we would be able to have more robust oversight with this increase in our workload.”

CMS selects facilities for the Special Focus Facility program, which provides additional oversight, with input from state officials. The federal agency said it asks a state which of several nursing homes most needs additional surveying, which occurs every six months.

CMS said the best way to evaluate a facility’s quality is its online comparison tool for nursing homes, which bases rankings on not only the health survey, but also on staffing levels and performance measures. It is possible for a nursing home to have a low survey score, but still rank well due to higher numbers in the other two categories.