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Gregory D. Pawelski

Nursing home care falling short

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Maryland’s nursing homes, usually among the best in the nation, had an off year in 2007, according to newly published information from the Government Accountability Office. State citations for inflicting residents with “actual harm” or putting them in “immediate jeopardy” were given to 17 percent of Maryland’s 234 nursing homes last year, up from only 8 percent in 2005 and 2006.

 

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/business/hancock/blog/2008/05/maryland_nursing_home_quality.html

 

2 state nursing homes land on U.S. watch list

 

Federal officials have placed two Maryland nursing homes on a nationwide watch list that has been made public as a way to alert consumers and push owners to improve conditions.

 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-te.md.nursinghome27may27,0,6755113.story

 

Nursing home industry fights reforms

 

Facing a new wave of congressional scrutiny, the nursing home industry is mobilizing some of Washington’s most well-connected lobbyists to fend off tough reform-minded legislation.

 

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0508/10627.html

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Congress is turning up the heat on nursing homes, or so it seems. The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations held a hearing that focused on problems with regulation and full disclosure of ownership.

 

Surprisingly, this subcommittee had not held an oversight hearing about nursing home care since 1977. This indicates a rather lackadaisical attitude on the part of Congress in regards to our senior population. The last significant change in nursing home regulations was the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987.

 

Now it seems Congress maybe serious enough in examining whether standards continue to provide an appropriate level of care and protection for residents of nursing homes.

 

The subcommittee released a report commissioned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that suggested that the regulatory enforcement system for nursing homes has a lot of problems. All 46 Manor Care nursing homes in Pennsylvania staff below a standard recommended in a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) study as putting residents at risk.

 

CMS contracts out the oversight of each nursing home to each state's health department. Not only is the each state's health department the problem, CMS may be part of the problem too!

 

CMS uses stealth moves like putting out the word that surveyors shouldn't cite anything they don't absolutely have to, cutting or under-funding oversight budgets, and looking at self-reported and unaudited data (data reported by the facilities themselves and no oversight agency verifies audits to ensure that it is even true).

 

Nursing home inspections depend on the paperwork to verify the residents are getting good care. Manor Care pays nurses to make sure the paperwork is perfect, thereby ensuring a good inspection.

 

In the past few years, a wave of new owners and investors has begun purchasing nursing home chains. These private-equity firms are unregulated and new to the nursing home market.

 

Many worry that the top priority for these new owners will be profits, rather than providing the staffing and resources necessary to ensure top quality care for our loved ones.

 

Frequently, they use complex corporate structures, separating the nursing home real estate from the operating companies and putting multiple layers of limited liability partnerships between themselves and the day-to-day operations of the nursing home.

 

The Carlyle Group already planned to restructure its take-over of Manor Care, which will comprise about 300 corporate entities that could obscure ownership and make it more difficult to regulate care. It split the company's real estate holdings from the rest of the business so the properties could be used as collateral to raise funds in credit markets.

 

Ownership structures with multiple stakeholders have been used by other private-equity firms to minimize liabilities and shield them from regulator inquiries like when cutting staff is made to improve profit margins. They use these kinds of structures to avoid taking responsibility when taking control of nursing homes.

 

Private equity is buying up this industry and then hiding the assets, and when residents are dying from lack of proper care, there is little the courts or regulators can do, while they skim off the profits to line the pockets of investors or plow the money into separate ventures that have nothing to do with nursing home care.

 

CMS and the states lack the tools to keep up with the rapid changes in the industry, to know who actually owns the country's nursing homes and who should be held accountable for the residents in their care. There is a crisis in our nation's nursing homes. The residents there need help!

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A report commissioned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) suggested that the regulatory enforcement system for nursing homes has a lot of problems. Though it’s dated March 22, 2007, CMS apparently hadn’t gotten around to making it public until recently. The agency said it had been developing an action plan to respond to the report, and wanted to release them together.

 

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08517.pdf

 

U.S. Senators Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Herb Kohl, Wisconsin Democrat, released a report from the Government Accountability Office that flagged a lot of the same concerns – which the GAO has been hammering on for a decade now. They are trying to get provisions from nursing-home disclosure legislation into a Medicare-related bill that’s expected to pass Congress by July 1.

 

http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08517high.pdf

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The nursing home racket: Psycho-drug the patient till they die. Less time and room taken and the rewards are that the government / nursing home took all the valuables for the patient to be admitted like their bank accounts and home.

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The nursing home sector accounts for roughly 6 percent, or $124.9 billion of the more than $2 trillion that we invest annually in healthcare. As always, the question is “Are we getting good value for our money?”

 

Given how vulnerable nursing home patients are, questions about quality deserve special attention. Maggie Mahar does the basics, how much do we spend on nursing homes?

 

http://www.healthbeatblog.org/2008/06/health-care-spe.html

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Summary of Major Provisions of the Act

 

Improve transparency and accountability in the ownership and operations of nursing homes

 

Corporations would be required to disclose their owners, operators, financers, and other related parties. Facilities that were part of chains would be required to submit annual audits. Purchasers would have to demonstrate that they were financially able to run facilities.

 

Require disclosure of how Medicare and Medicaid funds are spent

 

Providers would have to report wage and benefit expenditures for nursing staff on cost reports. Cost reports would be revised to categorize spending for direct care, such as nursing and therapies; indirect care, such as housekeeping and dietary services; capital costs, including buildings and land; and administrative costs, which often include the company’s profits.

 

Establish independent monitoring of chains

 

The federal government would develop a protocol for an independent monitor of chains to analyze their financial performance, management, expenditures, and nurse staffing levels. It would provide for corrective action and collection of civil monetary penalties.

 

Collect accurate information about nurse staffing

 

The government would collect data electronically from nursing homes on the number of RNs, LPNs, and nursing assistants, using payroll records and contracts with temporary agencies as the source. Data would include turnover and retention rates and hours of care per resident provided by each category of worker.

 

Provide better public information about nursing homes

 

Nursing Home Compare would be updated with more timely reporting of surveys; ownership information; accurate nurse staffing data, including turnover and retention rates; links to survey reports (Form 2567) when states put them online; enforcement actions; and all Special Focus Facilities identified for three years. The government would undertake a study on how to improve the website to make it more useful and understandable.

 

Implement new consumer complaint processes

 

The government would develop a standardized form consumers could use in filing complaints with the state regulatory agency or ombudsman. States would be required to establish a complaint resolution process for residents’ representatives who were retaliated against, including denied access to residents, if they complained about quality of care or other issues.

 

Provide for higher civil monetary penalties and other CMP reforms

 

Federal civil monetary penalties would be increased for the first time since the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act – up to $100,000 in the case of a resident’s death. Fines would be held in escrow during appeals of deficiencies, no longer delayed until appeals were resolved. Federal CMP funds, which are now returned to the U.S. Treasury, are encouraged to be used for the benefit of residents.

 

Provide for reporting of closures and continuation of federal payments

 

Nursing homes would be required to give 60 days notice of closure, including a relocation plan and assurances that residents would be transferred to the most appropriate facility or other setting. No new residents could be admitted after the notice was given, and the federal government could continue Medicare and Medicaid funding for residents until relocation was completed.

 

Authorize studies of temporary management; special focus facilities; culture change; and nurse aide training

 

The bill provides for studies of temporary management; the characteristics of Special Focus Facilities, including ownership; best practices in culture change; and training of nurse aides and supervisors. Dementia management would be added to the initial 75-hour nurse aide.

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Washington, DC-based Carlyle Group owns Synagro Technologies, the company that processes municipal waste products, transports the resulting "sewer sludge" and distributes it for land application. Residents from around Pennsylvania have been calling for the expanded testing of Synagro sewer sludge and public reporting on its toxicity and disposal. Communities don't know everything that is in the sludge dumped on nearby lands. Without more information, there are possible health effects and diminished quality-of-life issues.

 

Concerns about the safety of Synagro sludge have intensified since the company's April 2007 buyout by The Carlyle Group. By taking Synagro private in a leveraged buyout last year, Carlyle is able to avoid requirements that Synagro provide federal agencies with certain information about its business practices and avoid publicly disclosing the existence of regulatory inquiries or legal complaints against the company resulting from health hazards caused by Synagro products and product distribution.

 

This has been happening with The Carlyle Group's take-over of Manor Care nursing homes earlier this year. Manor Care's restructure could obscure ownership and make it more difficult to regulate care. You can't see how they are wasting money, short-staffing, under-paying workers, or understand all the intricate inter-relations they have with supposedly outsourced services such as therapy.

 

All 46 Manor Care nursing homes in Pennsylvania staff below a standard recommend in a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) study as putting residents at risk (Schnelle, et all. Appropriatness of Minimum Nurse Staffing Ratios in Nursing Homes: Phase II final report, December 2001).

 

The steady cash flows nursing home operators produce is a big attraction for private-equity firms that need the cash to pay down borrowed debt. Beverly, Extendicare, Genesis and Vencor/Kindred went private, and now Manor Care. Private firms keep all their dirty deeds from the public, especially consumers.

 

Ownership structures with multiple stakeholders have been used by other private-equity firms to minimize liabilities and shield them from regulator inquiries. They use these kinds of structures to avoid taking responsibility when taking control of businesses. Private-equity buyout firms such as the Carlyle Group are not required to publicly disclose information about the business practices of the companies they own.

 

The Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest private-equity funds with more than $75 billion under management, owns Manor Care, the largest nursing home chain, and Synagro, the largest sludge company in the United States. Perhaps they'll process all their municipal waste products, and distribute it to the lawns and gardens of all their nursing homes and add to the significant health complaints at the homes?

Edited by Gregory D. Pawelski

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(Best Syndication News) On Friday, September 26, 2008, Reps. Pete Stark and Jan Schakowsky introduced the "Nursing Home Transparency and Quality of Care Improvement Act of 2008."

 

The bill increases the transparency of nursing home ownership, ensures that residents and their families have information about the quality of care at these facilities, and strengthens enforcement of nursing home compliance with quality of care standards. It is a companion bill to S. 2641, introduced by Senators Charles Grassley and Herb Kohl.

 

The Nursing Home Act enables nursing home residents and government regulators to better know who actually owns the nursing home and who controls the decision-making that impacts the quality of care provided. In addition, the bill improves the reporting of information on staffing levels and direct patient care expenditures.

 

http://www.bestsyndication.com:80/?q=20081017_nursing_homes_legislation.htm

Edited by Gregory D. Pawelski
revise

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Everyone knows Carlyle Group eventually wants to go public, but it may have an added hurdle. Karen H. Bechtel, a Carlyle Group managing director who heads its health-care practice, and a veteran in the health-care investing field (Morgan Stanley), says "Carlyle is likely to hold on to Manor Care for at least five years."

 

Steven R. Howard, a New York lawyer who specializes in private equity says "if the company performs well, you sell it to the guys in Dubai, who will pay a fortune for it."

 

One of Blackstone and KKR’s major arguments was that they needed public currency to better expand their asset management platform beyond private equity (hedge funds, etc.). Blackstone and KKR both bought-out major nursing homes. Carlyle would likely make that case also, but investors may be a bit concerned about such expansion into public securities given the collapse of Carlyle Capital and pending liquidation of Blue Wave.

 

In other words: Carlyle has already demonstrated difficulty in straying from its private knitting, but would be asking for new capital to do that very thing. Could be tough for public investors to swallow.

 

This certainly isn’t to say that Carlyle couldn’t make a persuasive case, and would certainly argue that their problems were more a cause of timing that competence. Moreover, the firm would claim that its private securities knitting has been regularly marked with public security stitches, so such expansion isn’t actually that much of a stretch.

 

But it’s a case Carlyle will have to make. Blackstone didn’t have to because it didn’t have the blowups, and KKR didn’t have to because it’s not actually selling any new shares. If only Carlyle Capital still existed, so that Carlyle could just go public without anyone of import asking questions.

 

"The possibility of Carlyle Group following in the footsteps of rivals Blackstone and KKR in going public could face some challenges, according to Private Equity HUB. Carlyle could be stymied by the collapse of its mortgage-backed security investors Carlyle Capital and the upcoming liquidation of its Blue Wave hedge fund, writes Private Equity Hub."

 

This is a step we expect at some point with other nursing home chains that privatized in the last several years. It's a cycle: begins as a public company; they save up, sell out as private company (obscenely enriching the top dogs in the process); they suck all the assets dry; then they put it back into the public market. However, it's usually years before that happens, though, unlike Carlyle's apparent quick consideration of this move because of their bad investments.

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Staffing Cuts and Mounting Patient Care Problems at ManorCare’s Pennsylvania Facilities under Carlyle’s Ownership

 

A new analysis of federal government data reveals staffing cuts and a surge in violations at ManorCare’s Pennsylvania nursing homes while under Carlyle’s ownership. Average nurse and CNA staffing has actually decreased to just 3.29 hours per resident per day (HPPD) at the 20 Pennsylvania Manor Care nursing homes that have undergone annual surveys since Carlyle acquired the company on December 21, 2007. Nurse staffing was cut by 21.4% to just 3.05 HPPD at Manor Care Health Services – Lansdale, a 170 bed facility in Montgomeryville. [ii] In addition, none of the 20 facilities provided the 4.07 hours of care identified by experts in a 2001 study as the threshold below which quality of care is compromised. [iii] This staffing data may help to explain a surge in violations of federal health and fire safety standards at these facilities, which increased 31% overall to 202 violations in their post-buyout surveys. [iv]

 

Government survey records describe the tragic stories behind these violations:

 

ManorCare Health Services - York South was cited in January 2008 and again in May for two separate incidents involving a failure to timely notify a physician of a resident’s change in condition. The residents involved in both incidents died. In January, a resident with a history of fainting and at a known risk for falls fell and died several days later as a result of blunt force head trauma sustained in the fall. Incomplete information was faxed to a physician’s closed office, but a physician was not actually called for more than 17 hours after the fall occurred, during which time the resident exhibited symptoms of increased confusion and vomiting. [v] In May, the facility again failed to timely notify a physician after a resident, whose medication carried a known risk of side effects including heart attacks, complained of head and chest pain and had elevated blood pressure. The resident went into fatal cardiac arrest late that night. [vi]

 

ManorCare Health Services at Mercy Fitzgerald was cited by government inspectors for failing to provide timely assistance to a resident who had amputations of both legs, whose repeated requests for assistance in using the bathroom went unanswered over the course of half an hour. [vii]

 

Donahoe Manor was cited for failure to follow state law and its own policies requiring an FBI criminal background check for an employee who had been hired more than 9 months earlier, and for hiring a dietary aide who worked on the tray line and delivering carts before his tuberculosis skin test was completed. [viii]

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

This average is weighted to reflect different homes census level. The staffing data is based on information from “About the Nursing Home–Inspection Results,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home Compare data, downloaded 7/22/2008 and 11/09/2007. Under federal law, nursing homes must be inspected every nine to 15 months.

 

[ii] Ibid.

 

[iii] Ibid. .

 

[iv] Ibid.

 

[v] MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES-YORK SOUTH, Incident investigation and a State monitoring visit, 01/09/2008, F-0309.

 

[vi] MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES-YORK SOUTH, Medicare/Medicaid Recertification,

 

State Licensure, Civil Rights Compliance and Incident investigation survey, 05/22/2008, F-0309.

 

[vii] MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES AT MERCY FITZGERALD, M edicare/Medicaid Recertification, State Licensure and Civil Rights Compliance Survey, 01/08/2008, F-0309.

 

[viii] DONAHOE MANOR, Medicare/Medicaid Recertification Survey and State Licensure Survey, 01/07/08, F-0226, F-0630.

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My experience with my aunt in a nursing home is this pure and simple. She said: "See that drawer? I keep it locked. Everybody steals everything. Don't bring me anything." It was a tiny drawer. How can you even keep anything locked. Someone will have a key made while you're sleeping today. 9/11 showed me how to think like a religious person:) Think of a pyramid. The base is us. The top is the CEO. Now tell me where the natural power lies.

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My friend just brought her 90 yr old father home from a nursing home in Towson (not sure of it's name) because of the neglect. Laying in soiled diapers for hours, not bringing him his meals, not giving him his meds on time. They have opted for in home care with the time he has left (days, maybe a week or more). Her Mom keeps receiving bills for upwards of $3,000 with threats of attaching their SS checks or putting a lean on their home. It's sad.

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The natural power lies with the DON (Director of Nursing). When there is a nursing director who knows what to say to the state to stay out of hot water, no one will ever know the problems within the nursing home.

 

The nursing director at our Manor Care needs to be fired before any needed corrections are implemented there. Some of the problems are falscification of charts, turning off the "call button" buzzers at the nurses' desks, not following adequate infection control procedures and cluttering up the hallways (fire hazards).

 

Manor Care doesn't follow isolation precautions. It leaves residents with very contagious diseases in with healthy residents because they refuse to have people alone in a room because they would lose money on an empty bed.

 

Charge nurses on the floor would practically demand that the affected residents be placed alone in a room in isolation and are told just to pull the curtain between he beds to prevent the spread to the healthy resident.

 

The nursing director lives to write people up and fire people - that is her whole focus in life - not the residents or their care. She has power and she loves it. She walks all over the administrator. That is why she is always writing people up to show the state that she took action on a problem.

 

The problem with trying to get rid of her is that she plays the Corporate game to the max. She is constantly getting bonuses, promotions, and excellent evaluations because the facility always passes state inspections, she cuts nursing costs and gets rid of dead wood.

 

Intimidation or creating a hostile work environment is not of concern to the higher-ups at Corporate. But fear and intimidation in the work force is not conducive to good and proper resident care. The already gray line separating the oversight agencies from the industry is nearly invisible, and the swinging employment door between them doesn't help.

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If you are talking about what Cliff Schecter described as the Carlyle Group, an international investment club for yacht owners that exists so scoundrels from across the globe can break bread while discussing ways to further enrich themselves at the expense of 99.75% of the world's people, and its prominent members including the Bush and bin Laden familes? The only thing I have about that association is from the people at The Guardian.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/31/september11.usa4

 

The Carlyle Group has a colorful history that has attracted attention. Its list of former advisors includes George H.W. Bush. It sold a 7.5% stake in to the Middle Eastern emirate of Abu Dhabi, and prior to 2001, its investors included the bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia.

 

The Carlyle Group is moving well beyond their usual interests, involving itself in the operation of nursing homes (it has no experience in nursing homes), and forwarding the crazy notion that patient care should rank at least somewhere in the priority range of how many Mercedes your average Carlyler can pack into their 18-car garage.

 

These types of private for-profits have acquired nursing homes, cut expenses and staff, sometimes below minimum legal requirements, increased profits, and quickly resold facilities for "significant" gains. If the Carlyle Group marriage to Manor Care is successful, they then could sell it to Dubai, which has more money than it knows how to deal with. But by regulatory benchmarks, residents at those nursing homes are worse off then they were under their previous public for-profit owners.

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If you are talking about what Cliff Schecter described as the Carlyle Group, an international investment club for yacht owners that exists so scoundrels from across the globe can break bread while discussing ways to further enrich themselves at the expense of 99.75% of the world's people, and its prominent members including the Bush and bin Laden familes? The only thing I have about that association is from the people at The Guardian.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/31/september11.usa4

 

The Carlyle Group has a colorful history that has attracted attention. Its list of former advisors includes George H.W. Bush. It sold a 7.5% stake in to the Middle Eastern emirate of Abu Dhabi, and prior to 2001, its investors included the bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia.

 

The Carlyle Group is moving well beyond their usual interests, involving itself in the operation of nursing homes (it has no experience in nursing homes), and forwarding the crazy notion that patient care should rank at least somewhere in the priority range of how many Mercedes your average Carlyler can pack into their 18-car garage.

 

These types of private for-profits have acquired nursing homes, cut expenses and staff, sometimes below minimum legal requirements, increased profits, and quickly resold facilities for "significant" gains. If the Carlyle Group marriage to Manor Care is successful, they then could sell it to Dubai, which has more money than it knows how to deal with. But by regulatory benchmarks, residents at those nursing homes are worse off then they were under their previous public for-profit owners.

 

Given the interest in the nursing home by the Carlyle Group and with my interest in the past membership of the Carlyle Group and it's domestic and foreign political associations (including H W Bush and his extensive pharmacutical industry ties, past presidency) and considering "TMAP" enacted in Texas under his son, then Governor George Bush, and considering: "Teen Screen" during his presidency and all the other corruption thereof, I can only see a lucritive investment and the lobbying for new laws that would enhance the Pharmacutical and mental health industry at the cost of the elderly as the population ages.

 

There is bound to be dirt in the Nursing industry considering the players and past history.

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Violations Reported at 94% of Nursing Homes

 

By ROBERT PEAR

New York Times

 

WASHINGTON — More than 90 percent of nursing homes were cited for violations of federal health and safety standards last year, and for-profit homes were more likely to have problems than other types of nursing homes, federal investigators say in a report issued on Monday.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/us/30nursing.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin

 

Full report with individual state data: http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-02-08-00140.pdf

Edited by Gregory D. Pawelski

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Inspector General's Report Finds 92 Percent of Nursing Homes Cited for Deficiencies

 

By SHARYN ALFONSI and DIANE MENDEZ

Sept. 30, 2008

ABC News

 

A government report released this week found extensive problems in America's nursing homes. According to the study, nearly one in five of the nearly 15,000 nursing homes examined were cited for violations that put patients in immediate harm in 2007. A total of 92 percent were cited for some type of deficiencies during each of the last three years.

 

From treating bed sores to preventing urinary tract infections, the quality of care in nursing homes was usually the focus of those deficiencies, the report found. Experts also found that on a typical day, far too many residents waited too long to get the help they needed.

 

http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=5922543

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Samuel Lowenberg at Politico reminded us back in May that the nursing home industry mobilized some of Washington's most well-connected lobbyists to fend off tough reform-mided legislation. Among the lobbyists is a representative of The Carlyle Group, one of the most politically connected in DC.

 

The general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General told a Senate hearing that in spite of existing oversight mechanisms, there is continued examples of horrific treatment of nursing home residents. Since The Carlyle Group took over Manor Care, some homes have reported significant patient care problems.

 

On the state level, the existing oversight mechanisms have had an incestuous relationship with the nursing home industry. Recently, in the nursing home my mother is at, four months after the surveyors from the state health department gave a clean bill of health after their inspection, CMS surveyors did their inspection and cited numerous violations.

 

The industry lobbyists are fighting provisions to fully disclose ownership of nursing homes and to establish outside monitors to review patient care. Penalties for infractions - which are capped at $10,000 - have not been changed in two decades. And government regulators had collected less than half of the $81.7 million in penalties it levied against nursing homes.

 

Congress would like to increase those penalties to as much as $100,000 if a patient is harmed or dies due to poor care. To gird for the increased regulation, the industry is using a half-dozen of Washington's most politically potent lobbying firms on both sides of the aisle.

 

Unless you directly have or had a loved-one in a nursing home, you do not know what goes on in one. I sincerely don't think I'd have the interest in pushing this much needed legislation if I didn't have my mother (barely) living in one. And I think a lot of people who don't have a loved-one in a home, care about them. We've become such a cynical nation over the last eight years.

 

We (as a nation) are too busy doing anything else to touch base on this issue. It's only when one is directly hit with health issues, does one take the effort to confront the issue head-on.

 

I was just reminded by a health care expert that years ago nursing home scandals were cracked wide open by documentarians who went into nursing homes with hidden cameras. She thinks the nursing home business is creepy enough that it merits "sting" operations. I agree!

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Samuel Lowenberg at Politico reminded us back in May that the nursing home industry mobilized some of Washington's most well-connected lobbyists to fend off tough reform-mided legislation. Among the lobbyists is a representative of The Carlyle Group, one of the most politically connected in DC.

 

The general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General told a Senate hearing that in spite of existing oversight mechanisms, there is continued examples of horrific treatment of nursing home residents. Since The Carlyle Group took over Manor Care, some homes have reported significant patient care problems.

 

On the state level, the existing oversight mechanisms have had an incestuous relationship with the nursing home industry. Recently, in the nursing home my mother is at, four months after the surveyors from the state health department gave a clean bill of health after their inspection, CMS surveyors did their inspection and cited numerous violations.

 

The industry lobbyists are fighting provisions to fully disclose ownership of nursing homes and to establish outside monitors to review patient care. Penalties for infractions - which are capped at $10,000 - have not been changed in two decades. And government regulators had collected less than half of the $81.7 million in penalties it levied against nursing homes.

 

Congress would like to increase those penalties to as much as $100,000 if a patient is harmed or dies due to poor care. To gird for the increased regulation, the industry is using a half-dozen of Washington's most politically potent lobbying firms on both sides of the aisle.

 

Unless you directly have or had a loved-one in a nursing home, you do not know what goes on in one. I sincerely don't think I'd have the interest in pushing this much needed legislation if I didn't have my mother (barely) living in one. And I think a lot of people who don't have a loved-one in a home, care about them. We've become such a cynical nation over the last eight years.

 

We (as a nation) are too busy doing anything else to touch base on this issue. It's only when one is directly hit with health issues, does one take the effort to confront the issue head-on.

 

I was just reminded by a health care expert that years ago nursing home scandals were cracked wide open by documentarians who went into nursing homes with hidden cameras. She thinks the nursing home business is creepy enough that it merits "sting" operations. I agree!

 

I'm not a person to trust the Carlyle Group after it's dealing with H W Bush and George Bush, his son, and their political dealing in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was a member of the Carlyle group in the past history.

 

I mentioned before that I suspected the recent interest in elderly drivers and accidents is a propaganda stunt of the insurance and nursing home lobbyist of Washington D.C.

 

Without the ability to drive, many families would commit their parents (grandparents) to nursing homes and henceforth, you have the profits for higher insurance rates that may not be justified or the heath and welfare of the elderly (who would not be independent) as the easy method of disposing of a social problem to the families.

 

Another problem is the mental health industry and the resident psychiatrist that drug the elderly patient with psychotropic drugs. There is the general doctor to issue other drugs and medical advice. All this is (IMO) is forced health-care on the most vulnerable members of our society besides children for the Medicare and properties of the elderly.

Edited by HumanSpirit

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Maybe those of you who are worried about aging parents could use some volunteer time to discuss all this with your aging parents. A good start would be with your very wonderful neighbors who have the same problem. Oh? You can't talk to your neighbors who are in the same boat as you are? Surprise, surprise!!

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As an experienced nurse who worked in State run Nursing Homes to very expensive facilities....the problem is really very simple. HIRE ENOUGH STAFF TO TAKE CARE OF THESE PEOPLE......ALL THEY WORRY ABOUT IS PROFITS NOT QUALITY OF CARE. I used to love the interaction afforded me while working in the Nursing Home setting. Sadly you can't expect one nurse to do the work of 3. And you can't expect Nursing Assistants to take care of 8-10 pts....Some time ago there were CMA'S or med techs. They passed all medications which allowed the nursing staff to have more vital interaction with the residents. THOSE POSITIONS WERE DISCONTINUED IN THE NAME OF PROFIT... I think families of loved ones living in NH should band together and say enough is enough.

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While the "Nursing Home Transparency and Quality of Care Improvement Act" proposes collecting accurate information about nurse staffing by comparing it with payroll records, mandatory staffing levels is not in the nursing home bill.

 

Federal law only requires nursing homes to provide sufficient staff and services to attain or maintain the highest possible level of physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident, and we know this is insufficient. Minimum standards need to be raised because nursing homes operate at just that level - minimum.

 

The lack of staffing can be explained in simplified terms, right down to the basic facts that, without it, residents don't receive even basic humane care; i.e., fed, hydrated, changed, bathed, turned, given their meds on time and/or given correctly. Lack of staffing, in turn, creates a constant high turnover among even the most highly-trained, dedicated workers.

 

Residents lose weight and some starve to death because no one helps them eat or leaves the tray at bedside, out of reach; same thing with drinking fluids; subjected to the humuliation of soiling themselves, often just because no one assists them to the bathroom, and such lack of hygiene also creates physical problems as well, from skin breakdown all the way to deadly, septic pressure sores.

 

This lack of care also translates into even more taxpayer dollars down the drain because the health problems that result from the lack of staff means costly hospitalizations, surgeries, and/or other medical treatments and/or medications that wouldn't have been necessary.

 

State regulatory agencies should be stopped from notifying nursing homes when annual inspection dates are impending, giving them time to clean up their act before the surveyors come, like "filling in the blanks" on medication administration records, wound care documentation, doctors' orders, and monthly care summaries. Filling in the blanks is represents extreme negligence of care that's happening in those facilities.

 

Neglect is the silent killer in nursing homes. By some estimates, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores and infection - caused by neglect - account for half of nursing home deaths and injuries.

 

This nation needs to write or call their federal congressional delegation to be on the ground floor at getting this much needed legislation passed.

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According to government documents back in 2001, the Bush administration, through Thomas A. Scully, then administrator of CMS, wanted to ease regulatory requirements on nursing homes, reducing the frequency of inspections and lessening or eliminating some penalties (meaning deregulation).

 

The administration wanted to move away from adversarial enforcement toward a more collaborative one, in which regulators would work with nursing homes to improve care. You can see where that got us in the present market meltdown and economic crisis.

 

Senator Charles E. Grassley, long-time advocate of nursing home patients, has said it was risky to reduce the frequency of nursing home inspections. Today's good nursing home can become tommorrow's poor performing facility, if there is a change in ownship, a new administrator, a new director of nursing or an influx of patients with more severe illnesses.

 

One of those administration's goals was to devise new measures of the quality of care by using data reported by nursing homes. Surveyors look at self-reported and unaudited data, data reported by the facilities themselves and unverified by any oversight agency to ensure it is even true. This leads nursing staff to do charting by rote, instead of charting care that they're actually giving.

 

Government reports have said that nursing homes with a low ratio of employees to patients were significantly more likely to have quality-of-care problems. This administration did not want to set mandatory staffing ratios for the industry. Without sufficient staffing levels, patients don't receive even basic humane care, which translates into even more taxpayer dollars down the drain.

 

One example of this lack of quality care is when nursing homes put LPNs in charge of floors. Nursing home would rarely pay RNs their salary to run the floor. LPNs do not receive training in nursing school on how to be a charge nurse. RNs have at least three months of training in leadership on a floor. Therefore, nursing homes are being run by untrained staff, as well as lack of CNA staff.

 

That is why RNs are hired to make sure the paperwork is perfect before the so-called, unnannounced survey inspections. Nuring homes would improve greatly if all charge nurses were RNs. With no disrespect to all the fine LPNs, they are not formally trained to do the job of an RN, yet they are placed in that role in nursing homes.

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How about families taking care of their loved ones. The economy is broken. The LPN's would probably

be grateful for the on-the-job training. I became a Member of the Technical Staff with on-the-job training. The families of their "loved ones" could use their own management skills. Who needs RN to manage? Only a few weeks training? Charity begins at home.

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