A recent NBC News investigative report shined a spotlight on Skyline Healthcare – a chain of nursing homes that at its height operated more than 100 nursing facilities in 11 states, overseeing the care of more than 7,000 elderly Americans.
Over the past two years, Skyline Healthcare’s nursing home empire crumbled, throwing residents, vendors, employees, and state regulators into chaos. Many of Skyline’s facilities simply ran out of money. Others were shut down by state agencies due to neglect. Fourteen homes were forced to close permanently, leaving more than 900 residents to find new facilities – sometimes several hours away.
The scale of Skyline Healthcare’s collapse may be unprecedented. It is a story of rapid expansion, mismanagement, and catastrophic failure, all of which resulted in painful consequences for the most vulnerable people among us.
It is the story of people like:
- Marcela Watkins, who recalled the staff at the Little Rock, AR nursing home where her mother lived being forced to serve residents raw vegetables and boxed pizza because no other food was available;
- Donny Owens, who fell and was left lying on the floor of another Skyline facility for nearly an hour before staff found him;
- Terri Thompson, whose mother – a women suffering from dementia – wandered out of a Skyline facility in New Jersey and was eventually found sitting on the ice-covered ground in the parking lot at 4:30 a.m. without a coat, shoes, or socks.
It is also a story of failure on the part of the state and federal authorities responsible for America’s nursing homes. Those facilities currently house more than 1.3 million elderly and disabled Americans – about three-quarters of whom occupy beds paid for by taxpayers via Medicare and Medicaid. But while the states are responsible for tracking ownership and conditions at nursing homes within their borders, only the federal government can monitor the performance of firms that own or operate facilities across the nation, such as Skyline.
Perhaps the most shocking story of all: The owner of Skyline Healthcare, Joseph Schwartz, still has ownership stakes in 53 nursing homes, according to federal records.
Be on the Lookout for Signs of Trouble
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, always be on the lookout for signs that the nursing home is not providing the best care possible. Look for things like:
- Staffing issues, such as inadequate staffing or high staff turnover;
- Constantly ringing phones or unanswered call lights;
- Frequent cases of dehydration and malnourishment among residents;
- Few or no improvements in the physical facility.
If you spot signs of trouble, immediately contact the government agencies charged with nursing home oversight. Then call the attorneys at The Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at 800-201-3999. We have a great deal of experience dealing with a wide range of nursing home issues. We’ll help you determine what can be done today to help your loved one. After all, don’t they deserve the best care possible?