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I received the following comment a few days ago written by a recently licensed nurse who, after barely four months, has had her fill of the cheapness and dysfunctionality of for-profit nursing homes. The nurse writes…

“I graduated from nursing school during the summer of 2011. I started my professional career full of  excitement — looking forward to start working in a field that is not only a passion of mine but one that I believed would be fulfilling as well.

When I first started in this (for-profit) nursing home, working third shift, I saw a lot of problems that needed to be addressed. So with much energy I went about fixing them every shift that I worked. I did baths. I changed filthy linens. I gave everyone the meds they needed and also for pain in between so they could sleep.

I met with the aides and other staff members about fall and abuse prevention, ulcer prevention, and care for special needs. I left letters and notes to the Director of Nursing (DON) and the administrator so things would get done. In my mind, they system was broken but I was going to do everything in my power to fix it.

Fast forward several months later…A resident known to have unstable diabetes cannot be given orange juice or food because the kitchenette is locked, so his blood sugar drops into the 50’s. No point in looking in the medication room for a glucagon shot or sugar pills in my cart, since this facility refuses to order emergency supplies for diabetics! It turns out that management considers an”unnecessary expense”. So for this resident who had the dangerously low blood sugar I went to a nearby store on my lunch break and bought him a soda and rushed back to the facility as fast as I could.

The very next week another nurse gives a scheduled insulin shot to one of her residents and comes to me scared out of her mind because we have no test strips to test blood sugar in the building, so she had to guess as to whether this resident’s blood sugar was stable enough for insulin. This for-profit nursing home went without any test strips for an entire week! During this same period of time two residents were sent to the ER due to shock/coma from hypoglycemia because nurses had no way of guessing their blood sugar.

At the facility where I work we have have 80 or more residents.  It is quite normal for several aides to call in sick or not be scheduled by management for their shift. On some shifts we end up having only two aides for 80 or more residents!  This means that 40 residents have one person to clean them, answer their lights and help them. Two nights ago, only one aide came to work. For 80 residents! Everyone was called, including the adminstrator, at midnight. He said, and I quote, “this topic doesn’t come up when state inspectors are in the building! One aide is adequate — the nurses will pitch in (they already do the aide’s work as well as treatments, meds, and anything else) –and stop threatening the aides with a write-up or termination for not coming in, because we don’t want to anger them which will cause them to not show up for work even more often!”

Yes, we do have some excellent CNAs. I found one aide in tears in a linen closet last week because she had run out of wipes, toilet paper, diapers, chuck pads, and trash bag liners. She went to change a resident, and found him soiled all the way to the mattress. She used a shirt out of his closet, to wipe him clean, and laid him back down on the feces encrusted mattress to sleep. The shirt was left on the floor because laundry locked the housekeeping door and the linen garbage was overflowing with urine soaked laundry.

This is just a sampling of my experience in nursing home care. I could share much, much more.

I pray as I punch in the clock at night that nobody would fall and hit their heads because it could be hours before somebody would notice. I pray for patience, not for the horrors of my job, but for the restraint not to find the administrator and punch him in the face. I’m not a nurse where I work, I’m a faceless pair of legs. And the faster I walk, the bigger corporate’s wallets grow.

I’ve become incredibly discouraged and have contemplated turning in my resignation and walking off the floor. For all those of you facing the difficult situation of putting a parent in a care facility, please, please consider a not-for profit…and NOT a for-profit nursing home! Even if you must move out of state, find a way, any way, to keep your loved ones from places like these. Trust me, you will find it to the best answer.”

There you have it. Another first-person account of the harm caused by outrageous corporate greed within the for-profit nursing home industry! No test strips. No emergency supplies to respond to the needs of insulin-dependent diabetics. No clean linens available so a resident wont have to sleep in their own urine and feces!!! This intentional refusal to meet the basic needs of nursing home residents is beyond disgusting — it is in every sense of the word CRIMINAL!!!

As I’ve stated many times on this blog, do NOT believe the for-profit nursing home spin that they need Medicare and Medicaid to INCREASE the amount they pay for nursing home care. This is a LIE! As documented by a scholarly study conducted by the University of California at San Francisco — released in late 2011 — the quality of care offered by non-profit nursing homes almost always exceeds the quality of the care offered by for-profit facilities! Non-profits invest a larger percentage of their income in providing resident care than do for-profit nursing home corporations. For pr0fit facilities use their profits to line the pockets of stockholders and private investors instead of putting the money back where it belongs.

“For profit” and “care” can not co-exist. “For profit” always means that the nursing home residents will suffer.