Articles Posted in Uncategorized

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The state of Georgia has strengthened their law on background checks for nursing home employees and owners who have routine resident contact or access to any of their personal information. Effective October 1, 2019, all owners, applicants and employees of long term care facilities will be subjected to fingerprint and name background checks through the FBI’s database. Previously, state law required a name-only background check through a state database. The group behind the push for the new law, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform, said the stricter laws of surrounding states left Georgia open to employing those from neighboring states with a checkered past.

The new law, officially titled the Georgia Long-Term Care Background Check Program, applies to not just nursing homes, but assisted living facilities, home health agencies, and private in-home providers.

Illinois Nursing Home Employee Law

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There’s yet another acronym in the healthcare world that we’ve been hearing often. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs are “a group of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high-quality care to their Medicare patients.  The goal is to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time while avoiding unnecessary duplications of services and preventing medical errors.”

Essentially, ACOs are a network of healthcare providers helmed by a Medicare fee-for-service patient’s primary care physician that all share information about the patient. Instead of seeing one doctor here and one doctor there and having to obtain records and experience gaps in care, healthcare providers within an ACO all have access to the same information. These groups are not insurance-based, so although a provider might refer a patient to another within the ACO, the patient isn’t required to see only providers within that ACO.

Hospitals have been under pressure to better care for patients and reduce costs since the 2012 passage of the CMS’  Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). The program seeks to cut down on the number of hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge, namely by slashing their reimbursements paid to hospitals. It is the very real threat of reduced payments, as well as the lure of shared savings bonus from CMS that has led many hospitals and health networks to band together to form ACOs.

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A Virginia family is suing their mother’s former nursing home over her death following a fall. The woman, Fannye Doris Holden Scruggs Rorer, was an amputee who had only one eye and suffered from Alzheimer’s. On April 15, 2016, she had been a resident of Woodhaven Hall at Williamsburg Landing in Williamsburg, VA for 5 years when a lone CNA attempted to transfer her from her bed using a hoyer lift. During the transfer, Ms. Rorer fell and X-rays later showed she suffered compression fractures on her lumbar spine. Instead of moving Ms. Rorer to a hospital for treatment, the facility chose to keep her on site. Ms. Rorer died 8 days late at age 87.

Victim Suffered Repeated Falls Before Death

The lawsuit also alleges that Ms. Rorer had been dropped 6 times in the months leading up to her fatal fall in April 2016. The Virginia Department of Health had also cited the facility in 2015 and again in 2016 during an inspection conducted less than 2 months prior to Ms. Rorer’s fall. The citations from that inspection include nursing staff’s failure to notify a resident’s doctor that she was in severe pain following a fall, as well as a lack of care plan for a patient following a bowel surgery.

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90% of seniors 65 and older say they would prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible                             (Source: 2012 AARP survey)

Taking care of aging parents or loved ones is one of the largest responsibilities we will ever take on.  A question many of us have already had to answer or will face in the coming years is “Is it financially and physically possible to keep Mom and Dad safe in their own house as they get older?” Today we’ll discuss what you should know about helping your loved one age in place.

Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, or Living at Home: What’s More Expensive?

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A Texas hospice operations director has admitted to following instructions from her boss that resulted in $60 million in fraudulent billings to Medicare and Medicaid. The executive, Melanie Murphey, was employed by Novus Health Services in Frisco, one of the largest hospice providers in North Texas. Murphey reported directly to Bradley J. Harris, the company’s CEO and owner. According to Murphey, Harris quickly put hospice patients on Continuous Care (CC), a designation that requires around the clock care and is covered at a higher rate than standard hospice services. More often than not, this care was not required.  If a patient was on Continuous Care for several days and they still were alive, he would tell Novus nurses to administer lethal drug doses to cause their death in order to prevent Medicare from digging into why a patient was classified as needing CC when it was not medically necessary.

Harris was not alone in his scheme. He worked with at least 5 doctors and 5 nurses who knowingly gave unnecessary medication doses and falsified records in exchange for kickbacks. NBC5 Dallas-Ft. Worth reports that patient records falsely read that one physician conducted appointments, but the time and dates overlap with vacations she took out of the country.

Melanie Murphey took a plea deal with the government in exchange for her testimony in the case, while Brad Harris, his wife, 5 doctors, 5 nurses, and 3 others have been indicted and are awaiting trial.

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A major proposition has passed the New Jersey Assembly Human Services Committee and will soon be handed to the New Jersey House for a vote. The bill would specify the ratio of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to patients in New Jersey nursing homes.  According to a spokesperson for 1199SEIU, the major New Jersey union that represents healthcare workers, the state ranks 44th in CNA to patient ratios.

No Federal Laws Regarding Nursing Home Staffing

The Federal government recommends nursing homes employ enough staff to meet the needs of the residents, but it does not specify a ratio of CNAs, LPNs, or RNs to residents.  The government also advises nursing homes to devote at least 4.1 hours of direct care per resident each day, with at least 1.2 of those hours with an LPN and 1.2 hours with an RN.  However, there are no federal laws mandating staffing ratios or the number of required hours of direct care for nursing home residents.

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The Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed last Friday that the number of elderly adults dying after a fall has increased 31% since 2007. In 2016, 29,668 adults age 65 and older suffered a fatal fall, up from just 18,000 in 2007.

After reviewing death certificates, the CDC discovered that the number of fatal falls was the highest in the 85 and older age group, with 247.9 deaths per 100,000 seniors in 2016. That same year, there were 15.6 fatal falls per 100,000 seniors age 65-74. The CDC also reports that 1 in 4 adults age 65 and older say they’ve fallen in the past year.

U.S Census Bureau totals show that Americans age 85 and older are the fastest growing age group in this country. Thanks to advances in medicine and greater knowledge about healthy living, Americans are living longer than ever. As the baby boomer generation advances in age, the 85+ age group is expected to swell to 8.9 million by 2030. With falls increasing, particularly in those 85 and older and with more Americans soon entering that group, the CDC is concerned with how to protect elderly Americans from falls.

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An LPN in Philadelphia was arrested today over the death of H.R. McMaster Sr., an Army veteran and the father of former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

McMaster Sr. was staying at Cathedral Village, a senior living community, to recover and receive rehabilitation following a stroke. He arrived at the facility on April 9th and by April 13th he was gone, dead from blunt force trauma suffered from a fall. He was 84 years old.

Nurse Charged with Manslaughter

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A caregiver of any type is considered one of the most physically and emotionally demanding jobs there is. To be responsible for the day-to-day survival of another is exhausting and grueling work. For those whose job it is to provide direct care to non-family members, turnover can be high, particularly when wages are low, insurance benefits are weak or non-existent, and when the workplace culture does not value these employees.

Wisconsin’s long term care industry is feeling the impact of these conditions. With an average pay of just $10.75 an hour for direct care long term care workers, they are falling on hard times trying to fill positions. The state’s current average hourly wage of $12 for other entry-level employees is a tough pill to swallow for those who care for our loved ones day in and day out. But this isn’t just Wisconsin’s problem. States all over the country are having trouble filling LPN and CNA positions and are using things such as double shifts and overtime to attempt to compensate employees. While extra hours might mean more pay, the wages are still appallingly low and employees in these positions often find themselves burnt out, angry, and exhausted. Even worse, many are taking these jobs as a last resort, knowing that nursing homes are notorious for high patient loads, long hours, and no downtime.

Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Will Only Get Worse

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In June 2015, Rebecca Zeni, a former model, wife, and mother, died at Shepherd Hills nursing home in LaFayette, GA from blood poisoning, the result of a scabies infestation so severe that her body was covered in crusts and her fingers were nearly falling off. The medical examiner who reviewed Ms. Zeni’s case has said that her death was likely extremely painful and that she needlessly suffered from the easily-treatable disease.

Today, Ms. Zeni’s daughter is suing the nursing home, Shepherd Hills, and its for-profit parent company, PruittHealth, for neglect and wrongful death. The story gained national attention after the family allowed photos of Ms. Zeni to be published, highlighting alarming flaws within the nursing home industry.

Nursing Home Let Victim Suffer for 2 Years