Most people understand—in a general way—that nursing homes can be a scary place. But most people do not know the specifics. How and why a nursing home can kill someone.
I see that all too often.
A Plain Dealer report by John Caniglia & Jo Ellen Corrigan this week included an article on a nursing home in Cleveland, Ohio that has earned the lowest possible rating on Medicare’s 5 star rating system.
With over 200 beds, this is a large facility. And it is located in a well-to-do suburb, Beachwood. And it has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for substandard care the killed people.
Park East Care and Rehab Center is a facility I’ve become familiar with from calls from the public. And with this new report, some of the serious concerns from state investigations have been highlighted.
One of the terrifying things I’ve found with nursing homes is how vulnerable you are. The more care you need, the more vulnerable you are. And the more dangerous it can be if the nursing home is understaffed or has poorly trained or monitored employees. You could need help moving in bed to prevent bedsores, or help eating and drinking to avoid dehydration.
That’s what makes the story the Plain Dealer reported so terrifying.
A man who had a tube inserted into his windpipe so he could breathe, called a tracheotomy. Those tubes, like our throats, can become filled with fluids.
But unlike our throats, you can’t just clear the tube yourself. You need someone to do it for you. Or you can’t breathe.
Overnight shifts are some of the worst-staffed shifts in nursing homes I’ve seen. But that doesn’t mean people do not need care.
As Caniglia & Corrigan report, things did not go well for this man overnight:
On Sept. 18, 2015, a 39-year-old male resident was admitted to the nursing home with severe respiratory issues. Records show he had a tracheostomy, a procedure in which a tube was inserted into his windpipe to allow him to breathe.
A doctor’s order required the nursing staff to suction the tubing every four hours. But state and federal reports regarding his treatments say there was no written indication that suctioning had been done at 12 a.m. or 4 a.m. on Sept. 21. At 6:30 a.m., he was found to be unresponsive. He later died.
According to a state report, the nursing home’s manager of clinical operations did an internal investigation and interviewed the registered nurse who cared for the resident. The nurse, according to the report, said the resident’s tracheostomy tube had become disconnected at 11:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the tubing was to be suctioned.
“He (the registered nurse) said that he did not think the resident required suctioning during his observations of him throughout the night,” according to a report by the Ohio Department of Health, which investigates complaints at nursing homes.
What’s worse? First, it’s only coming to light because the staff did not simply fill in the treatment sheets pretending they’d provided the care. That’s easy to do, especially when a facility is understaffed.
Second, no jury will ever hear about Ohio’s investigation. Why?
Because the Ohio General Assembly decided to protect dangerous nursing homes over keeping resident’s safe.
I’m glad the Plain Dealer is spending so much time and energy to help the public understand the crisis we find in nursing home care. Park East is one of many for-profit nursing homes making money from government funding while providing substandard care. Maybe if people have a better understanding of these issues, they’ll demand change at the statehouse.
It could not come soon enough.
What do you think of this care? What has you experience been with nursing homes? Have you experienced nursing home abuse, or been involved in nursing home lawsuits? Comment below.