ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A trade organization representing most of Missouri’s nursing homes is making the case that the facilities are performing exceptionally well, despite being “underfunded, unnoticed, and underappreciated.”
The comments by the Missouri Health Care Association came in response to a KMOX investigation Friday which showcased dozens of area nursing homes which had been fined by federal authorities for a number of deficiencies, ranging from sexual and verbal abuse to neglect.
“Just listing of citations to nursing homes, egregious ones at that, but by trial attorneys and media outlets, does nothing. And that’s all I’ve seen in the media the last few years,” MHCA Executive Director Jon Dolan said.
Dolan and the MHCA point to a University of Missouri School of Nursing study which finds that a large majority of Missouri residents and families “gave their facility an overall satisfaction rating of either ‘excellent’ or good,'” despite what Dolan says are the challenges faced by nursing home providers.
“My nurses have it tougher. It’s as simple as that,” Dolan said. “My salaries are lower. My workforce is less trained. It’s very difficult. My families visit less. Everybody goes to visit when you’re in the hospital, ‘Oh my gosh, Bob’s in the hospital, let’s go visit him.’ What happens to Bob one month into the nursing home?”
Dolan’s comments mirror those of Dan Finney, a personal injury attorney in St. Louis who handles nursing home abuse cases. “The best thing that a family could do for a loved one who is in an assisted living or nursing home facility is to visit them frequently, to stay in contact with them, to check in on them, to make sure they’re getting the attention that they need,” he said.
Finney told KMOX Thursday that he’s seen an uptick in nursing home abuse cases, most of them stemming from negligence rather than abuse. But Dolan says citations in Missouri are on the decline and that the media fail to understand nursing homes, “the red-haired stepchild of healthcare,” as he calls them.
“We’ve gone from being forty-ninth in the nation, from being under-funded for the actual costs on the mandated cost reports we provide, to about nineteenth and we’ve invested that money in quality programs and satisfaction levels and serious citations are actually down, even though actual inspection levels are up,” he said.
Among the most egregious cases uncovered by KMOX is a 2010 incident at Nathan Health Care Center in East St. Louis in which “it was determined that the facility failed to protect 6 residents from sexual abuse,” a 2010 report reads.
Three residents, including a man who had recently been released from a federal prison and is referred to only as “Resident 9,” were found, according to the 59-page report, to have sexually assaulted at least a half-dozen fellow residents, most of whom were “unable to give informed consent” due to their limited cognitive abilities.
“We need people to understand that yes, there’s a former sexual predator and he’s now dying of liver cancer and he needs nursing care,” Dolan explained, not citing the 2010 case by name. “Where’s he going to go? Is he next to your grandmother? Well, we have units and we have standards.”