Articles Posted in Hot Button Issues

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nursing home neglect

Payroll Records Indicate Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Create Serious Gaps in Patient Care

Only recently did the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) begin collecting and reviewing daily payroll records from more than 14,000 nursing homes. The publishing of the data became required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Kaiser Health News recently analyzed the submissions and caught that most U.S. nursing homes have been operating grossly understaffed and reporting a false review of average employee shifts. Kaiser claims these nursing homes had:

  • Significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing, with particularly large shortfalls on weekends when personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as normal.
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The Elder Justice Coalition is reacting to a July 7th New York Times article that outlined just how extensively nursing homes have hidden low staffing numbers. The advocacy group is calling for an immediate congressional review of staffing practices within nursing homes.


Actual Payroll Data Reveals Staffing Crisis

The article, investigated and published in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, was based off a review of payroll hours submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The actual hours made news not only because they show a serious crisis in terms of resident to staff ratios, but also because up until recently, nursing homes had supplied their own staffing data to CMS. With the new payroll-based submission process, nursing homes have no ability to fudge numbers.

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Genesis Healthcare, one of the largest nursing home groups in the country, is having a bad year.  This summer, the chain was ordered to pay $54 million to 5 whistleblowers who exposed fraudulent billing for keeping and treating patients who did not require hospice care.

Adding to the nursing home chain’s problems are criminal charges against a resident, with a concurrent civil case against the chain itself. In October of this year, 74 year old Francis Kinsey, a resident of Coventry Center Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Rhode Island, was arrested for sexually assaulting an 80 year old female resident. An employee witnessed the assault and immediately notified authorities. After the resident’s arrest, it was discovered that he had a 5 year old pending charge for sexual molestation and was currently out on bail. That case had not been furthered because his heath prevented further legal action. The family of the 80 year old resident who was sexually assaulted has sued Coventry Center and Genesis Healthcare, arguing that a resident with a pending criminal charges for a sexual offense should not be able to live freely alongside others, particularly the elderly and vulnerable.

On November 16th, a Rhode Island judge declared Kinsey not fit to stand trial for the recent sexual assault. Mr. Kinsey’s health has now prevented him from facing charges on two sexual offenses for which he has been formally charged by police.

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The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC), an organization dedicated to the protection and well being of the elderly, has released its first monthly issue alert. The first issue is dedicated to understanding, preventing, recognizing, and treating pressure ulcers. It also deals with how to find out if the facility that cares for your loved one has a history of allowing these painful, yet often preventable, sores to develop in their residents.

The alert is a useful tool in understanding what a pressure ulcer is and how to know for yourself how advanced the bed sore is and if its occurrence was preventable based on your or your loved ones health and risk factors. LTCCC’s monthly alert on pressure ulcers can be found here.

Pressure Ulcers: Why You Need an Experienced Attorney Advocating for You

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An Orland Park widow is suing Spring Creek Nursing and Rehab Center in Joliet over their alleged negligence that led to the death of her husband in April of this year. Dianne Casper, the widow of Edward Casper, said he was just 75 when he entered the facility after having hip surgery. According to the lawsuit, Edward Casper’s record at Spring Creek documented that he was suffering from dementia, ‘increased cognitive impairment,’ as well as at risk for falls.

Excessive Number of Falls Within Two Months

The lawsuit alleges that from his admission date on January 31, 2017 to his death in April, he fell 28 times at the facility. His final fall in early March caused him to fracture his other hip, which resulted in an immediate hospital transfer and surgery. He died one month after that fall.

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A nursing home in Westborough, Massachusetts is facing two separate lawsuits for falls that ended the lives of two its residents within a 7 week span in 2015.  The lawsuit alleges that staff at for-profit Beaumont Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center ignored and purposely defied physicians’ orders that mandated the use of fall prevention devices, resulting in the tragic falls that caused blunt force head trauma and the death of two elderly residents.

Properly Used Safety Devices Can Aid in Fall Prevention

Per doctors’ orders, both fall victims, 89 year old Betsy Crane and 85 year old Vincent Walsh, were to wear wrist or ankle bracelets that function as tracking devices, referred to as a wander management system.  Devices such as these alert staff to the whereabouts of each resident, including leaving protected areas (such as the resident’s room or designated safe zone) or even making the smallest of movements. When combined with adequate supervision, wander management systems can be a valuable tool in ensuring the safety of nursing home residents who are at risk for wandering, as well as those at risk for falls.

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Michael Morris was just 43 years old when he died from complications that arose from infected tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes, as well as multiple pressure ulcers. He was a resident of Salem Village Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Joliet, Illinois for just over a year at the time of his death last September.

In a lawsuit filed in Will County, the administrator of his estate alleges that the facility is directly responsible for his death by failing to provide the adequate care required for a resident in Mr. Morris’ condition.

How do Pressure Ulcers Develop?

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Last year, several nurses at Lake Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina walked in on nurse’s aide Douglas Steven Little sexually assaulting an elderly resident suffering from dementia. Little, a 10 year employee of Lake Park Nursing & Rehab, admitted to the assault and is now serving a 19 year prison sentence. After the news of Little’s crime broke, other Lake Park families began coming forward with similar allegations of rape and assault of their loved ones.

Repeat Offender

An affidavit by a former Lake Park Nursing & Rehab nurse states that in 2012, the facility was made aware of sexual assaults committed by Douglas Steven Little and covered them up from victim’s families. The affidavit was included as part of a lawsuit filed by the daughter of another alleged victim of Little’s. The woman’s daughter, Annette Foster, says her mother was a dementia resident who spent two years at Lake Park Nursing & Rehabilitation before her death. She says that after the news of Little broke, she began examining her mother’s medical records and coupled with the behaviors she observed in her mother before her death, she is certain that she was assaulted on multiple occasions and strongly believes it was by Douglas Steven Little. While her mother was still a patient, Foster knew something was amiss after her mother reported being raped on two separate occasions. She requested that only female staff members treat and visit with her mother and despite the request, she still saw Little wandering around the dementia unit.

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It is a growing concern as the population of elderly prison inmates continues to rise: What happens to inmates who require more care than an infirmary at a standard correctional facility can give? The cost of treating inmates in prison, at specialized psychiatric facilities and at local hospitals is making the cost of long term care an expense that states are having a hard time managing. Federal funding is not given to prison inmates treated at any of these locations.

Enter facilities like 60 West, a combined nursing home and correctional facility in Rocky Hill, Connecticut that has become the first nursing home of its kind to be granted funding from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Several states hoping to receive federal funds for similar facilities are clearly pleased with the news and experts hope that the success of 60 West will spur other nursing homes to adopt the mentality that the elderly all deserve compassionate and federally-covered care, regardless of a prison record. Receiving federal funding for state-owned nursing homes would significantly ease the burden of covering long term care costs for prison inmates.

Previous Denial Due to Health and Safety Issues

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“We can no longer choose between caring for your family and our own, and so, we have decided to stand together as part of what will be the largest strike of nursing home workers in the history of our country.” 

            -Services Employees International Union (SEIU) statement on nursing home employee strike

In a move to influence contract negotiations between SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Illinois Association of Healthcare Facilities (who represents 53 Chicago-area nursing homes that use SEIU members for staffing), 5,000 SEIU members are planning to strike. The two main issues at hand are low pay and low staffing numbers, creating an industry of underpaid and over-utilized nursing home employees who feel they must work excessive amounts of overtime in order to maintain a living wage.