Those with family or friends in nursing homes like to believe that their infirm loved ones are receiving the consistent, quality medical and nursing care they could not otherwise receive at home.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Take Central Ohio, for instance, where between January 2017 and September 2018 the state Attorney General’s office received 142 complaints about Medicaid patient abuse and neglect leading to 81 investigations, five indictments and five convictions.
For a local woman named Dawn and her mother, these numbers don’t begin to describe the shock and horror they experienced when they stopped by to visit 90-year-old “Grandpa” in September at his nursing home, The Manor at Whitehall, in Whitehall, Ohio.
Mother and daughter found a huge bright red sore covering Grandpa’s upper back and yellow “oozy film” on his pillowcase. Grandpa, a Navy veteran with dementia who had just lost his wife, told the two that he was aching and hurting. There were food crumbles on the floor, a filthy air conditioner filter, and a yellow substance on his bed remote.
The next day Grandpa was found bleeding, his pillowcase and blanket were completely covered in yellow puss. While a nurse told the family that Grandpa was being treated for a yeast infection and would be turned every hour, Grandpa reported that his arm was burning and that he hadn’t been turned all day.
The nursing home later revealed tests which showed that Grandpa had a staph infection. He ended up in the hospital the next day with dehydration, pneumonia and dried kidneys.
Dawn’s sister filed a report with police, who in turn told WSYX ABC 6 that they turned the case over to the Ohio Bureau of Long Term Care. Although they wouldn’t confirm a specific case, the state Department of Health confirmed that they investigated a complaint at the nursing home around that time but didn’t find evidence to support it. The department did, however, issue eight citations for deficiencies ranging from failure to develop a care plan to fail to do background checks on state-tested nurse aides, all of which the nursing home was ordered to correct.
The Department of Aging told ABC6 that it’s also investigating the facility.
Families and friends of nursing homes are advised to be alert to the quality of care their loved ones are receiving and to advocate for them. In cases of suspected abuse and neglect, advocates are advised to document what they witness down to the smallest detail and to file reports immediately with appropriate authorities and agencies.