Investigation: Nursing Home Nightmare Part 3

By: AP
By: AP

ANDOVER, Kan. -- It was one of the largest fines against a nursing home facility in state history when Victoria Falls in Andover was fined more than $150,000 last week. But it was levied only after the state saw a family’s hidden camera video.

The state says the video shows serious abuse and neglect. Of course, hidden camera video is rare, which has raised hundreds of comments and questions on our social media pages—comments about your own experiences with nursing homes across the state.

One long-time RN and nursing home employee said, “I highly recommend that all family members put recording devices in your family member rooms.”

Even the Kansas Department of Aging says this case should serve as a warning.

“I think any skilled nursing facility in the state, if they learn about this case, should review, take note how their systems,” said Joe Ewert of the Kansas Department of Aging. “Whether they are five star or one star, this could happen anywhere.”

So what is going wrong? Elderly advocacy groups place blame squarely on the Kansas Legislature. One, Kansas Advocates for Better Care (KABC) says the state’s staffing requirements haven’t been updated since 1980.

“I recently talked with young woman working as a CNA who told me her assignment in the morning was for one staffer to get people up, fed, and their hygiene routine,” Mitzi McFatrich of the KABC said. “She was responsible for 18 people. That is simply unconscionable to allow that to go on is really legalized neglect in our state.”

McFatrich says experts recommend one nurse for every five residents. Currently, state regulations require one nurse for every 30 patients. KABC has been lobbying for changes to this for three years.

Problem two: Although the KABC won its fight for background checks a few years ago, it says the state is not doing enough to ensure owners and operators are suffering repercussions if basic, decent care is not provided.

“The video speaks for itself,” McFatrich said. “Obviously there is a problem with the system.”

Dan Girioux, the attorney who represents the Colcher family, the family which set up the hidden cameras, agrees and wants this case to change things forever.

“I anticipate Donna is not the only one that has been subjected to this kind of treatment by healthcare providers,” he said. “To put these nursing homes on notice that they need to follow the regulations and they need to make sure that the amount of money they are getting paid each month for these types of residents. That it is important the right level of care is provided. I don’t want any other Donnas to be out there.”

Both parts one and two are available at the link to the right.

To look up nursing home inspection reports and violations, visit medicare.gov. If you want to find out whether a facility has violations, see the online provider directories accessible at this link: http://www.kdads.ks.gov/LongTermCare/Facility_Reports/disclaimer.htm.

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, please report by calling the Kansas Adult Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation Hotline at 800-842-0078 or fax your report to 785-296-0256 and/or call Kansas Advocates for Better Care at 1-800-525-1782.

If you need help finding a new care home for your loved one, visit the Kansas Advocates for Better Care website or call them at 1-800-525-1782. You can also contact them through email at: info@kabc.org.

Posted by Greg Palmer


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