Another reason we need The Boston Globe – nursing home coverage

CaptureAs The Globe heads for another round of buyouts,  consider one of many reasons we so need a robust news operation in town: your parents.

Or maybe your grandparents. Or anyone who lives or works in a nursing home in the state. Kay Lazar has been doing some great reporting on conditions in and regulation of nursing homes.

I covered this beat in NC in the 1990s,  so I know the kind of dark places she’s had to go to get these stories. (I count the state Department of Public Health — super uncooperative about public records — among them.) I started reporting on the low fines North Carolina was issuing serious violations of are rules.  After a couple months of this, a county inspector told me this: one home owner said: I don’t care how much you fine me, just keep me out of the paper. When our news operations are diminished, she’ll get her wish.

A small sample of Lazar’s work:

A pattern of profit and subpar care at Mass. nursing homes

The Globe scrutinized the 2014 financial reports, the latest available, from 396 Massachusetts nursing homes and examined the money spent on nursing care, patient food, management, rent, and fees for therapy, office support, and other services. Also examined were health and safety violations for each nursing home.

For-profit nursing homes, which constitute three-quarters of those in the state, frequently devote less money to nursing care, compared to nonprofit homes, the analysis showed.

From Tuesday’s paper

Nursing homes are being bought and sold in the United States at a rapid clip, raising questions about the quality of care, according to a Harvard University-led study published Monday.

Corporate owners appear to target nursing homes beset with problems, and the difficulties — notably health and safety violations — often persist after the transactions, the researchers found.

Nursing home owners profited as complaints rose

Over the past year, a portrait has emerged of substandard care in many of the nursing homes run by Braemoor’s owner, Synergy Health Centers. Poor treatment of patients’ festering pressure sores. Medication errors. Inadequate staff training.

Now, a Globe investigation shows that as father and son were paying themselves handsomely, Synergy apparently provided false information when applying for nursing home licenses. The Globe’s review also found that Synergy and its affiliated companies assembled a string of 11 nursing homes with little state scrutiny of the backgrounds of top executives, including Larry Lipschutz, who faces tens of thousands of dollars in fines because of previous business dealings.




Nurses and nursing homes: Watchdog health reporting at the Globe

CaptureHow evil is it to charge people for Alzheimer’s care and not deliver it? How dangerous is it for people to go around saying they’re licensed nurses when they are not?

CaptureStuff like this is hard to track because, last we checked, the people in charge of records like these were not real helpful.  Liberal Massachusetts is known for its strict public records laws.

Kay Lazar of the Globe had this yesterday:

State regulators are citing more than four dozen Massachusetts nursing homes for advertising dementia care services when they don’t actually offer the kind of care required to make such a claim, according to the Department of Public Health.

and Felice Freyer had this Sunday, with a follow up Monday:

Massachusetts regulators revoked or suspended the professional licenses of 13 nurses after discovering recently that the health care workers lied about having nursing degrees or being licensed in other states, health department documents show.

The action sparked questions about the background checks state regulators rely on to issue licenses to thousands of nurses and applicants in 10 other health fields, including pharmacists, psychologists, podiatrists, and optometrists.

Boston Globe on nasty #nursinghomes and #hospital #Medicare savings

Two stories of note in the Globe today, one on nursing homes and the other on Medicare.

From Kay Lazar. On front page but need to poke around the webpage to find it:

indexThe adult diapers supplied by the new owners at New England Health Center, a nursing home in Sunderland, were so flimsy they left elderly residents soaked in urine. A representative from the state ombudsman’s office insisted that the owner of the nursing home, a company called Synergy Health Centers, buy a better brand.

At Braemoor Health Center in Brockton, which had a blemish-free state review before Synergy took over, health inspectors have been summoned three times in the past year. They found lax infection control, among other concerns, and the nursing home was ordered to make improvements.

Synergy’s expansion in Massachusetts has been rapid — the chain has purchased 10 nursing homes since December 2012 — and with the expansion have come complaints.

On Medicare saving for everyone but Partners.

downloadFour Massachusetts health care organizations saved nearly $150 million in Medicare costs by coordinating care for patients and working to keep them healthy and out of hospitals, according to a federal report.

Those organizations — Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, Steward Health Care System, the doctors group Atrius Health, and the Mount Auburn Hospital doctors association — accounted for more than one-third of the nearly $400 million in Medicare savings nationwide under a pilot program that is testing a new system for delivering and paying for services.

A fifth Massachusetts health system participated in the pilot, but Partners HealthCare, instead of saving Medicare money, cost the program $17 million, according to the report.

How to check out a nursing home

The reform debate has shrouded the other healthcare crisis – How to pay for and deliver long- term care. In the meantime, buyer beware. Here’s some help.

Medicare has a new searchable database on Nursing Home Quality.

USA Today has a story on it and their own version of the database.

One in five of the nation’s 15,700 nursing homes have consistently received poor ratings for overall quality, a USA TODAY analysis of new government data finds.

Massachusetts already has a database but the two above are easier to read.

Elder abuse: Over her not-quite-dead body

Most of the workers I met when my father was shuffled around the nursing homes of Boston were hard working, underpaid and often very caring. Some of the residents were  very difficult to deal with, at times abusive and racist. Still, the aides who take those jobs need to be trained to deal with abuse. I hope the guy in the first story below behaves a bit better at work. 

Caretaker links to the left.

FREEPORT, N.Y. – A nursing home worker let his ailing mother lie on the floor of their home for two days, stepping over her when he had to and not calling 911 until she was malnourished and dehydrated, police said yesterday.

 Closer to home…

 Nursing home aide charged with assault

Allegedly struck elderly resident

By Brian Ballou, Globe Staff  |  August 15, 2009

A nurse’s aide, accused of punching and threatening an 83-year-old nursing home resident who has Alzheimer’s disease, was arraigned in Malden District Court this week on assault and battery charges, authorities said.

The state attorney general’s office said that Marie Michel, 54, of Medford, punched the woman twice in the chest and stomach about 4 a.m. on Sept. 17, 2008, pushed her down onto her bed, and ordered her not to get up again. according to the state attorney general’s office. The elderly woman had gotten out of bed at the Epoch Senior Healthcare center in Melrose and was apparently wandering around her room when Michel allegedly entered and starting hitting her.

Investigators say that the victim’s roommate witnessed the attack and that an investigation was launched last October.

Some resources:

The Mass Family Caregiver Handbook

Mass Elder Abuse Hotline (1-800-922-2275)

SEIU 1199 — union for nursing home workers