A review by USA Today says over 100,000 health care workers are abusing or dependent on prescription drugs every year. Doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and aides all have important jobs. The safety of hundreds of thousands of people is in their hands at any given moment. What if those hands operating on you were shaky because they hadn’t gotten their fix? Or what if the anesthesiologist putting you to sleep was obsessively thinking about the next time she could get high? What if you weren’t getting the pain medication you needed for a surgery, but you were getting the unexpected surprise of Hepatitis C? While these scenarios may seem unlikely, each and every one has happened.

In the USA Today article and video, multiple health care professionals were interviewed about their drug use and abuse. Each of the above scenarios was detailed in those interviews. These are real nightmares that happened to real people. And with the prevalence of drug abuse in the medical field, the next victim could be you.

 

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Recently, authorities discovered that a man convicted of third-degree sexual assault was employed at a nursing home facility. This man was able to obtain employment because of the facilities failure to conduct any sort of background check. This facility is now no longer able to legally accept new patients. The man was working there as an environmental services coordinator. He was fired when the facility finally discovered he had such a violent criminal history.

It remains unclear, in this facility, as to how many other current and/or former employees were hired without background checks. Such negligent hiring procedures calls into question the integrity of the entire staff in the facility. No statement has been made on behalf of the facility as to how they plan on correcting their huge error. A fine was issued to the facility in the amount of $31,000. The facility has had 30 previous violations. In this respect, the fine seems like a mere slap on the wrist for a place that repetitively fails to maintain proper standards of care for residents. See article here.

A home health aide at All Heart Home Care of Manasquan, NJ was charged with stealing approximately $19,000 from an elderly resident’s bank account. The accused is Sheila McFadden. McFadden was arrested while attempting to cash one of the checks that she had stolen. She was charged with Forgery, and Receiving Stolen Property. A total of twelve checks were stolen and cashed. During this time the investigation remains open. See article at Ocean County Signal.

Many times, crimes such as theft from residents in elder care facilities can be prevented. Nursing homes need to take a more proactive approach in screening employees and implementing quality control procedures. The majority of facilities choose to not pay their employees much above minimum wage. This leads to the workforce seeking to find any other way possible to supplement their income and not care about fulfilling their job requirements. Overall, this leads to staff providing negligent care and abusing residents.

Back in February police received credible reports that an elderly, mentally incapacitated woman was being sexually assaulted at the Autumn Leaves Memory Care Center.  Eventually Stephen Reed, a caregiver at the facility was named as a suspect.  He was finally arrested by The Northern Oklahoma Violent Crimes Task Force on March 25, 2014.  Reed is charged with first degree rape, and is due in court tomorrow.

Unfortunately disgusting and tragic things like this happen all the time nationwide. Even worse, most victims of sexual assault in nursing homes are not able to report the crime that is being committed against them because of mental or physical incapability. Many nursing homes and care centers are negligent in supervising their employees.  Even the most trained and experienced caretakers need to be checked up on how they are doing their job, or otherwise situations like these will occur and the crimes will continue to happen. The Autumn Leaves Care Center should have paid more attention to their employees and how their residents are being treated. The entire care facility needs to be thoroughly investigated to make sure there are no more victims of sexual assault.  See article at KRMG.

Although the vast majority of nursing facilities nationwide do not have sufficient staff to provide necessary care to their residents, an analysis by the Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA) finds that the federal enforcement system cites very few facilities with staffing deficiencies. The federal government often does not impose any financial penalties on the nursing homes, even when it finds that facilities do not have sufficient staff.

The federal Nursing Home Reform law requires nursing facilities to have “sufficient” staff to meet their residents’ needs. Sufficient nursing staff is universally recognized as a key requirement for making high quality of care possible and available for residents.

To determine whether nursing facilities are in compliance with nurse staffing (and other) federal standards of care, state agencies conduct scheduled annual surveys and complaint surveys. They use survey protocols that are developed, tested, and validated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As a matter of policy, however, CMS generally limits the penalties to facilities that are cited with deficiencies that are classified as causing harm to residents.

 

Police say they arrested, Jean Belimarie, a nursing assistant at a Brockton nursing home on a charge of raping an elderly patient.  Belimarie was working as a certified nursing assistant at the Champion Rehabilitation and Health Center.  Police said the rape was investigated after family members of the victim, an elderly patient, reported the incident.  See full article at The Enterprise.

 

Anyone following the types of stories covered on this blog knows that short-staffing in nursing homes is a big issue right now. What you might not realize is how bad the situation might get in the coming years. The Baby Boomers are aging, and this means a big spike in demand for elder care is approaching. In another 15 years, there will be 73 million Americans over 65 (compare that to around 40 million in 2010).

The industry of long term care simply isn’t ready for all of those patients. Turnover for nurse aides is 75%, staggeringly high, but unsurprising considering the low pay, long hours, grueling work and the recently discussed fact that nurses aides have the most musculoskeletal injuries of any group of workers in America.

When facilities don’t treat their employees well enough to keep them, it makes it nearly impossible to ensure the staff is properly trained, experienced, and capable. As demand for nurse aides increases, the epidemic of short-staffing is set to grow by leaps and bounds, and the worse the working conditions are for the staff, the more burnout, mistakes, accidents, abuse, neglect and incompetence will occur.

A former home health aide at All Heart Home Care of Manasquan, NJ was charged with stealing approximately $19,000 from an elderly resident’s bank account. The accused is 46 year old Sheila McFadden of Ashbury Park, NJ. McFadden was arrested in Lakewood Township while attempting to cash one of the checks that she had stolen. She was charged with Forgery, and Receiving Stolen Property. A total of twelve checks were stolen and cashed. During this time the investigation remains open.

Many times, crimes such as theft from residents in elder care facilities can be prevented. Nursing homes need to take a proactive approach in screening employees and implementing quality control procedures. The majority of facilities choose to not pay their employees much above minimum wage. This leads to the workforce seeking to find any other way possible to supplement their income and not care about fulfilling their job requirements. Overall, this leads to staff providing negligent care and abusing residents.
See article at Ocean Signal.

I would like to invite you to read a new blog post by Rod Baird of LTC Management & Geriatric Practice Management.  “The Best Nursing Home Quality Measure CMS Does Not Publish – Turnover” where he discusses how Administrative Turnover may be a much more effective measure to use for determining the relative quality of a Nursing Home.

A recent Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA) article prompted this question: Are Nursing Home Survey Deficiencies Higher in Facilities With Greater Staff Turnover? (Published February 2014).  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject and would encourage you to join the discussion.

 

Boston.com reported that caregivers in Massachusetts are complaining about the poverty wages and labor conditions including chronic understaffing in the nation’s largest nursing home chain operated by private equity-owned Genesis HealthCare. Health Care REIT, Inc. (NYSE: HCN) and Sabra Health Care REIT, Inc. (NASDAQ: SBRA) are the publicly traded landowning companies for most Genesis facilities.  Genesis operates more than 400 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and behavioral health centers across 30 states. Despite this broad portfolio of revenue generating businesses, Genesis pays many of its workers at or near minimum wage.

Genesis is becoming one of the healthcare industry’s chief purveyors of poverty wages for caregiving staff. Genesis employees in Massachusetts are predominantly women and people of color and many are living at or below the poverty line who need and receive government assistance.  Why should we taxpayers subsidize a private for profit business instead of requiring them to provide a living wage?

“Caregivers employed by Genesis are responsible for the lives and health of literally thousands of Massachusetts seniors. It matters to seniors that those caregivers have fair wages and affordable healthcare. When Genesis pays poverty wages, they are devaluing not only the lives of the caregivers, but also the lives of the seniors they care for,” said Barbara Mann, President of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council.

“It is a moral outrage for a major healthcare employer like Genesis, with several billion dollars in annual revenues, to deny affordable health coverage to the workers caring for our nation’s seniors. This is not a mom and pop nursing home. There is never an excuse for this level of greed and exploitation in the healthcare industry,” said Veronica Turner, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the state’s largest healthcare union.