Abuse and Inadequate Care in Nursing Homes Continue

Horrific pain and neglect at nursing home

Horrific pain and neglect at nursing home

As I opined in an editorial a few months ago, the care in nursing homes is not as it should be.

Those seniors who spend their last years in nursing homes are not treated in a manner which is dignified and humane. Staff all too often abuse them, do not properly oversee their needs, give them needed medication or work to keep them comfortable.

Just this past week, District Attorney Robert Johnson announced that a nursing home aide from the University Nursing Home was charged with criminally negligent homicide, Assault in the 2nd Degree (D Felony), Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent Person (D Felony), Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person in the 1st Degree (D Felony), 2 Counts, in the death of a 77 year old man who had dementia. The man, Frank Mercado, was agitated.

Cherrylee young: Charged with negligent homicide at nursing home

Cherrylee young: Charged with negligent homicide at nursing home

The aide had been instructed that if a patient with dementia became agitated then no physical action against the person was allowed. She punched the patient, knocking him onto an overturned table. Mr. Mercado was impaled on a piece of metal protruding from the table. He died of internal bleeding shortly after being taken to a local hospital. Mr. Mercado depended completely on the care of those entrusted with his life. Over the last four years, the state has found 19 life safety code deficiencies at University Nursing Home, compared with a statewide average of 11 over the same period. A State Health Department inspection in 2011 cited the nursing home for filthy rooms, for broken equipment — including over-the-bed meal tables — and for failing to properly report or investigate resident injuries for possible abuse. In one case, an 86-year-old woman’s hand was lacerated on nails sticking out from a wardrobe; in another, an 81-year-old man with dementia complained of shoulder pain and then developed large bruises on his arm that went uninvestigated.

This kind of abuse at nursing homes is not uncommon.

We all know that during the flu season, the flu vaccine is strongly recommended for all; especially seniors. Nursing homes are required to administer the vaccine. In looking over statistics from last winter, I was surprised to see that only one nursing home, Morris Park Nursing Home, administered the vaccine to 100% of its patients, short and long stay.  Four nursing homes in our borough administered the vaccine to less than 50% of its short stay patients. Those were Casa Promesa, Bainbridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Laconia Nursing Home.

Several nursing homes were above the New York State average for patients sustaining serious injuries due to one ore more falls. Those in The Bronx with above average falls included Mosholu Parkway Nursing and rehabilitation Center, University Nursing Home, Providence Rest, St. Patrick’s Home, Methodist Home for Nursing and Rehabilitation and Jeanne Jugan Residence. The NYS Average is 3%.

Elder abuseI question why patients at some facilities are not treated in a proper manner. I am confident that a majority of administrators care about their patients. We need to have answers to the chronic problems at our nursing homes. We need to know what is being done to correct these serious problems impacting on those we love. These statistics came from The New York state Department of heath. Please keep in mind that it is way too often the care not given that is the abuse.

Personally, I feel that there are many better alternatives to nursing homes. Nursing homes can cost five to ten times what it costs for home health care. I believe in home health care. I feel that Medicare and Medicare have to be changed so that home health care can be provided in the best way to all who want it.

As I stated in a column in October: “As our longevity increases and people reach their 80s, 90s and older, there is a need for a coordinated system to allow end-of-life care to be in the way the patient, and not the system or the provider, wants.  I feel that one option is to be able to designate a friend or relative to be with the person during the end-of-life stage, to provide home care functions, reading of vital signs and other non-medical needs. They should be paid at a rate commensurate with what they are doing. This would cost much less than hospital, nursing home or hospice care. In no way am I saying that all hospitals and hospices are bad and only interested in financial gain.”

If you suspect abuse at a nursing home it has to be reported. One way is the NYS State Long Term Care Ombudsman

New York State Office for the Aging
2 Empire State Plaza
Agency Building #2
Albany, NY 12223
Work: (518)474-7329
Fax: (518)474-7761

Please let us know of any abuse, poor conditions or other issues observed at any nursing home. We will assist in investigating. We could all be in the same position many of our elders are in.


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