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Staffing Challenges Result in Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

The elderly and nursing home abuseStaffing at nursing homes has become a serious problem affecting patient care in Kentucky. The law requires “sufficient” staff to properly care for the health and well-being of the patient. Advocates for more stringent nursing home standards in Kentucky have fought for years to get state law changed, but the nursing home industry has successfully fought the attempt, and the law leaves the definition of sufficient in the hands of individual nursing home administrators.

The consequences of a weak law such as Kentucky’s were illustrated recently when an area nursing home was informed that it would no longer be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid payments from the federal government. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in early July that it would no longer pay for care provided at Hurstborne Care Center at Stonybrook because of numerous violations found during an inspection required by Medicare and Medicaid Services.

An investigation conducted by Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services revealed conditions that were described as filthy, unsanitary and dangerous. There are 125 residents at the facility.

According to the Courier-Journal, investigators found woefully substandard conditions that included:

  • Insect infestations
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Unsanitary rooms and bathrooms
  • Patients left unattended, unable to feed themselves or use bathrooms
  • Worn and soiled bed linens and torn mattresses, including one repaired with duct tape
  • Ongoing staff shortages covered up by listing workers on schedules when they were not on duty

In addition to cutting off federal funds, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will levy a fine of $629,000 on the Hurstborne Care Center for the violations, which apparently date to February of this year. The facility, which is owned by a Florida company, may close; if this occurs, the state will help residents identify alternate locations.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services reported in its annualĀ Nursing Home Survey Inspection Findings that it found at least 165 facilities not in compliance with regulations. Some of the 165 instances represented the same nursing home being found noncompliant several times. Interestingly, the Hurstborne Care Center was listed as noncompliant less frequently than others.

There were five complaints levied against the facility in 2014; only one of them proved to be an instance of noncompliance, according to the state. Other facilities had more complaints and more findings of noncompliance. For example, the St. Matthew Golden Living Center in Louisville received seven complaints, five of which resulted in a finding of noncompliance.

Hurstborne is not the only Kentucky nursing home to appear in the news because it failed to provide adequate care. For example, the court ordered a Berea nursing home to pay multimillion-dollar damages last month after a resident died from horrendous bedsores. Evidence presented during the trial revealed that the home routinely refused to change residents’ adult diapers to save money.

Given the state’s lax regulation and the frequency with which complaints are filed against Kentucky nursing homes, it is not surprising that the state was listed in a Newsweek article titled “You Don’t Want To Be Old in These States,” published on May 18, 2015.

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