Wandering the Halls for Help
Jay Vandemark, 47, suffered a stroke and was placed into Beechtree Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing. Following his stroke, Jay relies on the medical staff at Beechtree Center to assist him with day-to-day activities such as getting dressed, eating, toileting, medication, and other daily tasks. However, when Jay’s call bell goes unanswered, he is forced to wander the halls of the Beechtree Center to get assistance from a medical staff which is already overburdened and understaffed by the population and acuity of residents at Beechtree Center.
Especially on weekends and holidays, he said, “It’s almost like a ghost town.” [Source]
It’s reported that 90% of nursing homes were cited for violations of Federal health and safety standards. 17% of nursing homes had such a staff deficiency that it posed an immediate threat to their residents. In these nursing homes, aides, nurses, and other on-duty personnel are caring for nearly twice as many residents on a day-to-day basis. 14,000 nursing homes must submit daily payroll records to Medicare required by the
Care Act of 2010. For years, nursing homes had been submitting their own unverified staffing reports, making it possible to game the system.
Medicare has not yet set a minimum for resident-to-staff ratio, it does require the presence of a registered nurse for eight hours a day and a licensed nurse at all times.
Some nursing homes’ payroll records show that even facilities that Medicare rated positively for staffing levels were short on nurses and aides on some days. On facilities’ best staffed days, there was only one aide for 18 residents.
Federal records indicate that since 2014, health inspectors have cited one of every eight nursing homes for having too few nurses. As of 2017, nurse assistants earn on average $13.23 an hour making staffing a nursing home very competitive. Understaffing leads to higher turnover percentages. High turnover in a nursing home is directly correlated with the quality of care, since familiarity with residents’ needs is an important part of providing adequate and timely care.
When a nursing home is understaffed and has a high employee turnover rate, the overall morale of its employees suffers and directly affects residents’ care. Understaffing is believed to be the primary cause of neglect and abuse in nursing homes. This reality stands in stark contrast to the way nursing homes market their services to consumers. The worst part about this situation is that it could be avoided if nursing home owners would make resident care the priority instead of profits. Frequently, nursing homes will create complex corporate webs in order to make their financial documents show a loss or minimal profit. However, the reality is that nursing home owners are making substantial profits by channeling the nursing home revenue through the corporate webs they create. For instance, many nursing homes create a separate business entity which owns the building and property so that they can charge exorbitant rental.
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home negligence, contact an attorney at Kimmel Carter for a free consultation.