Nursing homes are again coming into the negative spotlight in the United States. This time the brunt of the attack is on Florida’s Health Care Administration for segregating children with disabilities in nursing homes for the elderly, away from the bright world outside and the joy, family fellowship and opportunities that come with it. These are unusual nursing home abuse instances where elder abuse isn’t the issue.
According to a Florida Department of Justice letter dated September 4, 2012, the State of Florida has been carrying out unnecessary institutionalization of disabled children in nursing facilities for the elderly in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The letter specified that these children were away from their families and placed in gloomy settings resembling a hospital along with the elderly inmates and other disabled people. The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains that around 50 children were away from their loved ones and locked up in these facilities for nearly five years.
The children are typically those suffering from serious brain injuries resulting from accidents as well as conditions such as cerebral palsy. Some children require external medical support such as ventilators while others are diagnosed with conditions such as tracheotomy. According to the Department of Justice, very few children return after visiting these nursing homes. One facility apparently claimed that some of these children are made to stay because their parents do not have the ability to support them.
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But it’s not that parents want their children to stay there. The mother of a 5-year old quadriplegic who has been an inmate of a facility wants her back but has been set back by a five-to-ten-year waiting list for home-based and community services. The DOJ has discovered that Florida has neglected funding for such community-based services systematically, citing an example in 2011 when it apparently let go of around $40 million dollars of federal financing particularly set apart for patients moving from institutions such as nursing centers to their community.
While the blame for this unsettling fact rests largely with the inability of the state, at another level nursing centers are being increasingly cited for hand hygiene deficiencies. From the years 2000 to 2002, there were less than 7.4 percent of nursing homes where such deficiencies were found. In 2009 that number increased to 12 percent. Michigan had the highest rate of deficiencies at 15 percent.
This news is a bit grim considering the presence of infections such as Clostridium Difficile and MRSA that are known to affect hospitals and nursing homes. Since nursing home residents are weak, they are more susceptible to infection. Such infections are the single largest cause of death and sickness in these settings.
Lack of sufficient staff is identified as the major cause for this hand hygiene deficiency. This can ultimately be pointed out to the lack of proper financing. Only greater financing could help nursing homes recruit new and well-trained staff and prevent further nursing home abuse instances.
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Medicaid reimbursements cannot be particularly expected in the present day grim economic situation. Nursing homes have to focus on improving the standards with what they have. But organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control can, and are, making a difference by carrying out training programs and offering educational materials. Most nursing homes are following safe procedures and the only way to ensure greater safety to present and future residents is to ensure that nursing homes maintain good hand hygiene standards.
In both cases, more government initiative from the respective states could prevent issues arising from negligence and gross disregard for human dignity. The publicizing of such investigative reports and the presence of successful medical attorneys should ensure things change for the better.
Illinois nursing home negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can ensure that nursing home residents get a fair deal.