Do Deaths at New York Nursing Home Point to Neglect?
A nursing home in Patchogue, New York, the Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, has come under fire for two deaths that occurred in 2013. Family members of those that died are accusing the facility of neglect.
Chris Glorioso with Channel 4 New York reports, “In one case, a former soldier died after his bedsores grew so large and deep, a human hand could fit inside some of the gaping holes in his skin. Another elderly veteran with dementia died after nursing staff lost sight of him for nearly an hour and he accidentally hanged himself while trying to wiggle out of a wheelchair restraint,” (2014).
In addition to those two tragic and macabre deaths, the single Google review on this facility gives it one star and reads, “This facility is horrible; patients are treated with little to no respect. Beyond the fact that it is extremely dirty and unsafe patients are found with bed sores and in horrible conditions. I am not sure why NYS has not closed them down but I will be filing a formal complaint with them.” This was written approximately two years ago.
A look at the New York State Department of Health website shows that the last inspection of the facility occurred in October 2013 and deficiencies were noted. In addition, the Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing has a higher rate of “complaints and incidents received per 100 occupied beds” than the state average; Suffolk comes in at 57 whereas the average for New York is 33.9 (source: New York State Department of Health, n.d.).
When questioned on the two deaths mentioned above as well as the facility’s quality of care, representatives of the Suffolk Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing said, “Our staff takes great pride in their work. We honor the responsibility we have to our residents and their families with skilled and compassionate attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week;” however, they declined to answer more specific questions about the deaths or safety of the center (Glorioso, 2014).
These tragic deaths, complaints, and citations all raise the question of how can you protect your loved one from nursing home abuse and neglect? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Know the laws and regulations in your state. For example, New York has no law establishing a minimum number of nursing assistants per nursing home resident (Glorioso, 2014). This means a facility could be severely understaffed.
- Do your homework. Using review sites and government sites (ex. the Department of Health) look for complaints, negative inspections, and citations against a facility you are considering.
- Visit the facility and do a thorough inspection. When you’re touring a facility look at everything and everyone not just the administrator showing you around and the public areas. Talk to residents and staff of all levels. Taste the food. Listen, look, and smell.
If you move your loved one to a facility, on subsequent visits, pay close attention. Things change. New staff or management could mean better or worse conditions. Be on the lookout for signs of neglect or abuse like large bed sores. Richard Mollot, director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition, says “When we see that the pressure sores [bed sores] are very serious—very large, there is a number of them, etc.—that should ring everyone’s
alarm that something is wrong here,” (Glorioso, 2014).
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