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Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect

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Today, there are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States. With so many options, how can you determine the best facility for your loved ones?

The Centers for Medicare and & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency involved in administering Medicare/Medicaid payments and setting standards for long-term care facilities, wants to help. CMS has announced that it will begin displaying a red consumer alert icon on its website designed to warn members of the public of nursing home facilities that have been cited for neglect, abuse, or exploitation. Consumers will be able to see these icons on CMS’ website when comparing nursing homes in their area.

In addition to promoting transparency, the move seeks to “empower consumers to make the right decisions for themselves and their loved ones.” According to the CDC, nearly 1.5 million Americans live in nursing homes. However, more than 10 million Americans need some form of long-term care or assistance performing daily activities. Sometimes, families are unable to deliver the level of care a loved one needs. In those cases, a nursing home is the only option. Finding the right nursing home can be challenging.

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Skyline Healthcare, a national nursing home chain, is the subject of a new investigation conducted by NBC News. At one point, Skyline operated nursing homes across the country, more than 100 facilities in 11 states, including Tennessee. However, in the last few years, several have shut down entirely amid allegations of abuse and patient neglect.

Joseph Schwartz of Brooklyn, New York, started Skyline after selling an insurance business. He continued to purchase nursing home facilities and expand into new states. Over the years, many of his properties faced accusations of neglect, uncleanliness, under staffing, and failing to properly monitor residents. Skyline properties have faced issues across the country, from Massachusetts to Arkansas to South Dakota.

One Skyline property forced to close was in Memphis, Tennessee – Ashton Place. Skyline took over the facility in September 2017, and by November 2017, a resident with an amputated leg was taken to a local emergency room. Upon admission, nurses noted he had been lying in feces and found maggots and gangrene in his leg. The resident passed away two days later, prompting a police investigation. Staff admitted that Skyline ownership directed them to move from electronic record keeping to paper record keeping. Poor record keeping was a red flag to investigators.

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The elderly population is increasing in the United States, as life spans are longer than ever. According to the Population Reference Bureau, there were more than 46 million people older than 65 years old in the United States in 2016. By 2020, that figure is estimated to increase to 98 million, which means that segment of our population would jump from 15% of the total population to 24% of the total population.

In future years, the Population Reference Bureau predicts a significant increase in the level of nursing home care needed to serve our elderly population. In 2010, approximately 1.3 million people over the age of 65 required nursing home care. By 2030, that number could increase to 2.3 million. Care for elderly people with Alzheimer’s is also expected to increase. In 2013, 5 million elderly Americans were living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, there will be an estimated 14 million people with that condition.

With the number of people needing nursing home or long-term care expected to increase, nursing home admission statistics are bound to follow. A problem in nursing homes now is when staff members, including aides, nurses, and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), subject residents to different forms of abuse. One of the biggest ways of mistreating a resident is by committing emotional abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse take place when one acts in a manner that causes emotional pain and distress, and it can include verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation, per the National Council on Aging.

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Nashville Long Term Care & Rehabilitation Center is a skilled nursing facility located on the northwest side of Nashville, Tennessee, whose website says their facility “enables patients to receive the care they need with the dignity they deserve.” The facility holds 419 certified beds and is operated by Louisville, KY-based operator Signature HealthCARE LLC. The facility has recently been in trouble with the Tennessee Department of Health, who conducted a recent investigation into conditions at the facility. The investigation concluded on October 19, 2017, but an onsite complaint survey took place at the facility from September 25 to 28. As a result of the investigation, the Tennessee Department of Health has ordered Signature HealthCARE LLC to pay two state civil monetary penalties totaling $7,500. The fine stems from surveyors who found violations of administration and resident rights during the inspection.

As a result of the violations found during the investigation, the Nashville Long Term Care & Rehabilitation Center is also barred from admitting new patients. A special monitor was also appointed to review the nursing homes operations. The Center boasts a staffing rating of above average from, but has an overall ranking of 2/5 stars, or “Below Average.” The facility has a health inspection rating of 1/5 stars, or “Much Below Average”, and received a federal fine of $67,925 on March 26, 2015 for a serious citation. The facility does have an above-average staffing level, which is not the case for all elderly assistance programs in Tennessee, as many have fallen short of caregiver staffing requirements. The facility’s CEO does note that star ratings factor in surveys from the past three years, and some problems that have been fixed can still count against the facility. However, it is important that patients, their families, and loved ones know a nursing home’s past performance and deficiencies when selecting the best care option.

Nursing homes often provide essential care for those who need help completing day to day tasks or managing medications. Families and loved ones of the elderly often place their trust with facilities like the Nashville Long Term Care & Rehabilitation Center to protect and care for their loved ones. Nursing homes have a duty to follow state and national standards for care, and to ensure that patients are treated with respect and given a high quality of life. Sometimes nursing homes and other care facilities don’t live up to these standards, and patients can suffer neglect.

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A Missouri man has filed suit against St. Sophia Health & Rehabilitation Center, a facility located in Florissant, MO, claiming the nursing home allowed his mother to die after leaving her in a hot tub for eight hours. Geriatric Management runs this nursing home, and they own 22 nursing homes across four states. The victim, 88, suffered from Ahlzheimer’s, dementia, depression, heart disease, hypertension, and muscle weakness, among other medical conditions. The lawsuit accuses St. Sophia of understaffing, claiming the facility did not provide sufficient support for all patients in the home, which allowed his mother to remain in the hot tub unattended. After her death, government officials investigated and inspected St. Sophia, finding that many residents were in “immediate jeopardy.”

Understaffing is a major issue at nursing homes across the country. While nursing homes are required to provide sufficient resources to properly care for their patients, this does not always happen. Instead, some facilities deliberately choose to place profits over people, knowing they can save money by hiring less staff members. Other times, nursing homes simply cannot find enough qualified workers who have the necessary skills and training, such as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

An understaffed nursing home can create a chaotic environment. Without enough staff members, those who are employed may feel overwhelmed and exhausted. This can lead to mistakes like failing to check on patients when required, medication errors, and leaving patients unattended for long periods of time, similar to the 88-year-old Missouri woman with difficulty moving/walking being allowed to remain in a hot tub for eight hours without anybody coming to check on her. It can also lead to frustration among staff members that be taken out on the patients. Nursing homes should provide compassionate care, but overworked, tired, and stressed employees are more likely to abuse patients or use chemical restraints to deal with patients whom they feel are unruly.

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A sudden death in a Michigan nursing home has sparked a statewide investigation with potentially significant consequences for the nursing home. The nursing home in question, Medilodge of Grand Blanc, has been providing long term skilled nursing care and short term rehabilitation services to the Eastern Michigan area for years. Recently, a male patient was found unresponsive, and investigators are wondering why.

The male resident, who has not been named in reports, was found unresponsive at Medilodge in late 2016. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was not disclosed but is under heavy speculation. The suspicious circumstances surrounding the sudden death have led to an investigation by the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service (MPAS). The MPAS is a state-appointed group assigned to investigate cases of abuse and neglect against the state’s disabled population.

MPAS also has the authority to file lawsuits on behalf of the state, which is precisely what was done in this case. The lawsuit filed by MPAS alleged that the deceased had physical and neurological disabilities and that he was not receiving adequate care in light of his circumstances. Lawyers for the group requested records from Medilodge in January 2017 but its request went unanswered. MPAS then, for the second time, requested records roughly two weeks later, also to no avail. After the second request, a lawyer for Medilodge stated he was in the process of complying with these requests but pleaded that he needed more time. The case is currently in the early stages of litigation.

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Imagine being attacked by creatures with no way of escaping. The feeling of lying helpless as thousands of tiny insects attack your body, bite after bite. This nightmare became a horrific reality for one 84-year-old nursing home patient in East Alabama. According to reports, the patient was left unattended for over 11 hours, during which time she suffered over 100 painful ant bites. The victim, who was bedridden, was unable to move on her own or call for help, and she required constant care from nursing home staff. This incident led to an investigation by the Alabama Office of the Attorney General as well as three employees being criminally charged with elder abuse.

One nurse and two nursing assistants were responsible for caring for the patient on the night of the attack. All three were licensed to practice in Alabama and employed by Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center, the nursing home where this occurred. A status chart for the patient showed that all three staff members had entered the patient’s room multiple times throughout the night, but surveillance footage revealed that none of the three ever actually entered the room for over 11 hours.

Following the investigation, the three employees were fired from the facility and charged with second degree elder abuse/neglect. Further, Cindy Cline, an Administrator for Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center, confirmed that the incident was reported to the state and the board of nursing immediately.

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A nursing home in Idaho is facing a lawsuit and severe penalties following findings of neglect. Holly Lane Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Nampa, Idaho is one of the latest nursing homes to be hit with allegations of gross neglect of its residents. According to findings by state inspectors in 2016, residents of the home were dehydrated, left to sit in their own feces and urine, and frequently battled infections brought on by the neglect of the nursing staff.

87-year-old Jerry Carr has filed a lawsuit against Holly Lane and its parent company, Orianna Health Systems, which is based out of Bartlett, Tennessee. Carr is seeking undisclosed damages in excess of $100,000. In 2015, Carr had been living at Holly Lane for 12 years when he suffered a serious fall that required surgery and left him hospitalized for two months before he could return to Holly Lane. Upon returning to the home, Carr required constant and detailed attention from nursing staff. The lawsuit alleges many complaints of inadequate care from the facility and its employees.

Among his claims, Carr alleges that the nursing home and its employees did not change his clothes when he soiled himself, did not provide him with his prescribed pain medication, failed to keep him hydrated, and failed to take steps necessary to prevent the fall that caused his severe disabilities. As a result of the neglect, Carr contracted a MRSA infection, which to elderly adults like Carr, can be a death sentence.

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An Oklahoma woman has been charged with 17 different counts of elder abuse. Robyn McKinney owns and operates Branding Brook, an assisted care living facility in Vinita, Oklahoma. The facility specializes in caring for patients with extreme limitations or disabilities. Due to the extreme nature of many of the patients’ disabilities, they are unable to communicate or move effectively, essentially rendering them helpless and completely reliant on McKinney and her staff to take care of them.

This makes it all the more unsettling to hear reports that McKinney had been abusing these residents for years. McKinney, who was responsible for keeping track of residents’ finances and medications, had been psychologically and physically abusing residents by withholding their money and verbally attacking them, according to complaints made by residents. Reports further claim that McKinney had even put a padlock on the facility’s refrigerator. This knowledge comes at the heels of a 911 call placed by someone who reportedly witnessed McKinney attack and bite a resident on the nose.

One of the only ways to stop nursing home abuse from happening is to report it. Reporting can come from a resident, a resident’s family member, or an employee who witnessed the abuse or neglect of a patient. Reporting nursing home negligence is critical because it only becomes more of a problem the longer it is allowed to continue. Unfortunately, facilities that neglect patients continue to operate daily. Elder abuse is all too prevalent, and often under reported. A study found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States were cited for almost 9,000 instances of abuse over a two year period. This same study also found that the percentage of nursing homes cited for abuse has increased every year since 1996.

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The dreaded phone call comes, and you just cannot believe that it could be true. The call comes from a loved one who resides at a nursing home. The loved one tells you she has been sexually assaulted by one of the nurses or caregivers at the facility. The disturbing trend of nursing home employees sexually assaulting patients is becoming more and more widespread. Even harder to believe is that some nursing homes go to great lengths to cover up sexual abuse or quickly dismiss these allegations instead of conducting a meaningful investigation to find the truth.

It is well known why people are placed in nursing homes in the first place. For starters, they are unable to live independently and adequately care for themselves. Loved ones may not be able to provide them with the necessary care either. Oftentimes, nursing home residents are elderly, sick, and disabled. They have medical conditions preventing them from driving and functioning independently, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Others have medical conditions requiring them to be monitored 24/7.  Some patients are wheelchair-bound which completely limits their mobility.

Sexual abuse is one form of nursing home abuse. When sexual predators are allowed to work in nursing homes, they are given an opportunity to prey on residents in their most weakened states. For example, a male nursing aid in Minnesota was sentenced to eight years in jail for raping an 83-year-old nursing home patient who had dementia. He was caught molesting the woman in her bed at Walker Methodist Health Center. The eight year sentence was one year more than what prosecutors were seeking. In defense of the sentence, the judge noted how the nursing aide “violated a position of trust” when he abused the patient.

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