Saturday, July 18, 2015

Nursing Home This Slow Saturday Special

And that will do them for today:

"No reason to limit Synergy, state says; Citations mount at nursing homes" by Kay Lazar Globe Staff  July 11, 2015

Massachusetts health regulators said this week that they do not have grounds to take serious action against a rapidly expanding nursing home chain that has racked up citations for dozens of violations involving patient safety and care in the past year.

State inspection reports of nursing homes owned by Synergy Health Centers routinely show striking increases in problems since the company bought its first Massachusetts nursing home in December 2012.

In a previously unpublicized case, one of Synergy’s nursing homes — Worcester Health Center — received citations from investigators in November and again in December on the grounds that it failed to give patients the right medication and other care.

In November, a nurse mistakenly put ear drops in a patient’s left eye after eye surgery, then denied the mistake when the patient wailed in pain, according to state reports. The nurse waited five hours to call a doctor.

The Worcester nursing home has been cited 21 times in 12 months, according to federal documents, well above the state average.

Yet the state Department of Public Health, which oversees nursing homes, recently deemed Synergy “suitable” to acquire its 11th Massachusetts facility.

They are the crean of the crop.

Advocates for nursing-home residents said they were befuddled by the state’s unwillingness to act against Synergy, given that regulators have a range of options that include denying a company new licenses or placing a moratorium on further admissions at existing properties.

I'm not. It's bu$ine$$, and it sure makes one fear getting old in Massachusetts.

The state health agency would not make officials available for an interview, the department said in a statement.


The position puzzled Wynn Gerhard, an elder-law attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services . She questioned why the Health Department deemed Synergy suitable on June 29 to purchase another nursing home, Grosvenor Park in Salem, given the mounting complaints.

“They could deny it and stop the expansion of Synergy without closing the entire chain down,” Gerhard said. “It’s all about resident safety and care.”

The Globe on Sunday detailed the experience of an 85-year-old resident at Synergy’s Braemoor Health Center in Brockton who fell and broke her hip, but was not taken to the hospital for two days despite cries of pain. At the company’s New England Health Center in Sunderland, families of residents have complained that there aren’t enough nurses, and that dental care and treatment of pressure sores are substandard.

Where does all the money go?

State regulations allow the Department of Public Health to deny a company a license for a new nursing home, or revoke the license of an existing property, if an applicant violates even one of several factors. The list includes owning a nursing home found to have violated the same or similar regulation twice or more within a 12-month period.

Synergy’s Braemoor nursing home has been cited three times in the past year for not providing adequate supervision, state records show. In one instance in November, a resident wandered away from the facility at 3 a.m., with nurses later providing conflicting accounts to state investigators about how and when they noticed the resident was missing.

Then someone -- gasp -- lied?

State regulations provide the Health Department with an alternative to revoking a license, or refusing to issue one; the health commissioner instead can bar a nursing home from accepting new patients until problems are corrected.

“It gives them a fallback if they don’t want to say this is an immediate jeopardy situation,” Gerhard said.

The state monitors 414 nursing homes, with roughly 40,000 residents, and the public has virtually no role in their licensing or oversight. Decisions by regulators about nursing home sales and closings have been conducted behind closed doors.

This is Massachusetts.

The process differs from the one used to review hospital sales, renovations, or expansions, which are subject to public scrutiny through hearings by the state’s Public Health Council, an appointed body of academics, consumer advocates, and physicians. 

“Right now, the nursing home industry is the Wild West of health care, and conditions for many seniors and caregivers are going from bad to worse as a result,” said Veronica Turner, Local 1199’s executive vice president....

That really puts one's mind at ease, especially the elderly being an indu$try. 

How much lower can we go?


And “we are still waiting for the regulations.” 

"Group faults Mass. nursing home dementia care; Says many homes in the state mislead public about extent of services" by Kay Lazar Globe Staff  July 15, 2015

Just hit bottom.

Nearly 60 percent of Massachusetts nursing homes that advertise dementia care appear to be skirting state rules designed to ensure they are not making false claims about their services and can appropriately treat their most vulnerable patients, according to a review by the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The association’s findings are similar to a Globe review conducted in February and come as state regulators face increasing criticism for their oversight of the state’s nursing homes, which care for roughly 40,000 residents.

“People’s lives are at risk,” said James Wessler, president of the Alzheimer’s Association, which championed a 2012 dementia care law intended in part to prevent deceptive practices. “This is misinformation to the general public, and it’s one of the things we wanted to stop — having nursing homes claiming they have special care and not be in compliance with minimal standards of dementia care.”

Yeah, “people [in the Legislature] are very concerned,” as are officials at the state Department of Public Health and the trade association for the state’s nursing homes.

Add this to the list of Patrick's neglect.


Recent Globe stories highlighted complaints about the state’s oversight of Synergy Health Centers, a rapidly expanding company that bought 11 nursing homes since December 2012.

A law passed last summer requires the department to establish a public hearing process before nursing homes are sold or closed, yet officials have not put that into effect. The department is still working on rules to implement the law.

Who died during the delay?

It took the Department of Public Health nearly two more years to implement the law.

RelatedDementia care standards finalized for Mass. nursing homes

Genesis HealthCare, the nation’s largest nursing home company, owns 34 Massachusetts facilities and appears to be side-stepping the law....

Maybe they can be reborn.


At least I haven't forgotten to buy a Globe yet.