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Several weeks ago hundreds of us nursing home reform advocates were delighted to learn that Extendicare (known to some of us as “Pretend-I-Care”), one of the worst-of-the-worst for-profit nursing home corporations, planned to sell all 21 of the facilities they owned within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. They are leaving Kentucky for the same reason they exited Florida several years ago: they couldn’t force our state’s legislators to support legislation that would make it more difficult to sue nursing homes for negligence. They didn’t have their way during the 2012 Kentucky legislative session, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars Extendicare and other nursing home owners have spent over the past year to bribe (I’m sorry, I mean “influence”) lawmakers with the hope of making it more difficult to sue nursing homes for providing negligent care.
Extendicare is truly one of the greediest companies you will ever encounter! Greedy to the point that the management of one of their southern Indiana nursing homes treated their kitchen staff to a nice dinner party in appreciation for them figuring how to feed their residents three meals and two snacks per day for less than 75 cents! More money is spent feeding dogs and cats each day than is spent by Extedicare to feed their (human) residents. That’s pathetic enough, but then to “celebrate” this new low point in resident care with a dinner party? That’s just plain evil. Greed should be a source of shame, not celebration.
When a Kentucky-based law firm that takes on cases of nursing home neglect published a “So glad to see y’all leave!” press release following Extendicare’s exit announcement, Tim Lukenda (Extendicare’s President and CEO), attempted to defend his outfit’s badly battered reputation. One of the statistics Likenda cited as something he is proud of is something that sane people would cite as a point of shame. He noted that within the year prior to the announcement that Extendicare was pulling out of the Commonwealth, “14% of our Kentucky [nursing homes] have received deficiency-free surveys.”
Let me break that down for you: only 3 of the 21 nursing homes owned by Extendicare in Kentucky were not cited for deficiencies by state inspectors. 14% (3 nursing homes out of 21) had excellent inspection reports. Wow. Impressive? Hardly! Pretty sad actually. What other corporation would be proud to point out that 86% of their facilities were doing a sub-standard job? Not many.
So here’s hoping that the Texas-based nursing home chain that Extendicare has sold all of their 21 Kentucky nursing homes to will provide a much higher level of care than their previous owners ever did. Sadly, it wouldn’t take much for the new owners to do a better job than Exitendicare.
EJH, who has worked as an Occupational Therapist in nursing homes for over 20 years, has seen with her own eyes the pathetically poor care given to nursing home residents. As someone working within the for-profit sector of the nursing home industry, where financial profit is placed far above the desire to provide an excellent quality of care, she notes that “Very few understand just how bad it is.” How bad is it? Her description of the nursing home industry is quite chilling:
“The care of our elderly is embarrassing, even in the finest facilities (and there are very few of those). My son works at a kennel and those dogs get better care than nursing home residents – and that is in no way an exaggeration. I also feel it is not the fault of the CNA’s, but the corporations and health care system that are making money off of our loved ones backs.”
Animals receive better care than do humans residing in nursing homes. This is what happens when the focus is on maximizing financial profit instead of providing the highest possible quality of care.
A very sobering example of the reality mentioned by EJH is the incredibly small amount of money for-profit nursing homes spend on resident food. An Extendicare-owned facility in Indiana reportedly “rewarded” their dietary staff with a dinner party for figuring out a way to reduce the cost of three meals and two snacks per day from around 85 cents per day down to barely 70 cents per day!
- How much does it cost for a one day supply of decent dog food these days?
- How much did you spend on food to feed yourself today?
- How much would it cost to adequately feed an elderly parent most days?
Remember that Extendicare and the other for-profit chains wont stop whining about how woefully underpaid they are for providing nursing home care. Medicare, Medicaid, other insurance companies and even nursing home residents are billed upwards of $175.00 per DAY for a semi-private room in most parts of the United States. Yet these corporations, with executives earning hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) annually, can’t afford to spend more than 70 cents per day to feed a resident? Something is seriously out of whack here — something is downright obscene and even evil – with the way these for-profit corporations divert profits away from resident care (care that includes how much they spend to feed their residents). Profits are diverted into such things as executives salaries, designer decor for their buildings and other business interests that have NOTHING whatsoever to do with providing care for their residents.
We must give the for-profit nursing home industry an ultimatum: Stop stealing from your residents or you will pay by losing your licenses that allow you to run your facilities!