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Here’s another unsolicited testimony from a nursing home staff member who lost her job for doing the right thing by caring for her residents and being ethical in the area of maintaining medical records for residents. This nurse (an LPN) from Kentucky writes…

“I’m so glad I found this blog. I too have experienced some of the horrors detailed in several of these postings. I am a licensed nurse with well over 12 years experience. I began my health care career working as a Certified Nurse’s Aide (CNA) for more than 20 years.

While working for a nursing home in Kentucky for more than a decade I truly loved my job, my residents and my co-workers. I began as a CNA for this company, and after a while, the administration thought enough of me to send me to school to become a nurse on a scholarship program. I worked as a CNA, a floor nurse, a unit manager, and eventually a “MDS nurse“. MDS nurses are responsible for assessing patients and billing Medicare and Medicaid.

I always felt good about the care I delivered to my residents, but as time went on and the company had been bought out, things began to change. Profit became the main concern and the care we provided declined dramatically. The local nursing home ombudsman proved to be of no help as this person was friends with the administrator. They even attended the same church.

I’m certain someone tipped off the administrator just before State Surveyors would arrive to inspect our building. Why would I say this? Because our administrator NEVER arrived for work before 8:00am any day of the week UNLESS an inspection was imminent. I reported this issue to the state ombudsman only to be scolded for calling into question “the morals and ethics of this fine woman” (the local ombudsman).

Several cases of abuse were covered up or barely investigated without anyone ever held accountable. One of my co-worker and I reported some findings we discovered while assessing patients as part of our job duties. We immediately reported these findings of neglect that directly caused the deaths of three residents to the Director of Nursing and the Administrator. Our concerns were met with defensive comments, such as ‘We are covered…we contacted the MD’, etc. The nursing home staff had ignored severe signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in three elderly patients, two of them went without any testing for over three weeks. These concerns had been reported to the Director of Nursing and administrator several times. Eventually proper treatment were given to these residents, but by the time they received treatment, they had become septic which contributed to their death. If the nursing home does too much testing for UTIs, it makes their infection control reports look bad on the public websites. So in essence, they ignore the symptoms and refuse to test! Three weeks after reporting our findings in these resident’s charts, my co-worker and I were both without jobs. We were told we were “not good team members” and were let go.

I have no recourse at this point as I am not considered a whistleblower, as I basically blew the whistle after I was fired. I was trying to get the administration to understand that we, as a company, had a problem that needed to be addressed. A sad, sad situation for all involved.

I have trouble sleeping thinking I should have stepped up sooner. I contacted Kentucky’s Office of Inspector General who seemed to take my complaint seriously, but after going to investigate,the Surveyors were told to write a few small tags, with no fines or oversight involved. The nursing home got away with everything, and I simply don’t understand how this is allowed to happen. This company is now involved in several lawsuits and one of them involves the family of one of the residents I complained to the administration about. I hope to one day find a company that will appreciate a strong patient advocate as I have no plans to change who I am!”

It would seem, sadly, that the definition of a “good team member” within the nursing home industry is a reference to a person without a conscious, without integrity and without the courage it takes to do the right thing. That’s a “team” that must go away!

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I received the following comment this past week from a  Nursing Home Administrator (NHA) who is now between jobs. She has worked as an administrator at eight facilities in six years. She tells us that the punishment for being a good administrator (Wait, doing a good job is something folks are being punished for? Yes. This is usually the case in the dysfunctional world of nursing homes!) is to be fired. She writes…

“I am one of the good administrators who have been lied on by staff and supervisors alike when I’ve held them accountable for doing their jobs, which in turn has cost me mine, and perhaps my career. If I have to hear one more time that “You are not a good fit”, I’ll just scream! The truth is, they are right, I’m not a good fit for the corrupted nursing home culture I’ve been subjected to. If anyone’s having difficulty understanding my point, just read the comments throughout NursingHomeReality blog.

I’m contemplating not pursing another NHA position. I am not one to sit back and do nothing and allow residents to be mistreated, neglected and/or abused. After so many terminations, I am now seen as a “job-hopper”, so companies don’t want to hire me. The saddest part is that I am well educated and professional. I have a military background and great leadership skills. I am honest, and pride myself in treating others the best I possibly can.

When a former supervisor verbally attacked two of my nurses; I asked him not to, and to speak with me about his concerns. I would in turn, speak with the nurses. Up to this point, I was so good at my job that the supervisor never visited the building because he liked my work and knew I had things under control. After our talk, suddenly, he came to the building unexpectedly and told me “you are not a good fit, and your services are no longer needed”.

On another occasion, a company rewarded me for a job well done in one of their nursing homes by moving me to another one so I could repeat the process. My position ended there after about four months after some staff rendered false reports to the corporate office. Even after the Human Resources department conducted an on-sight investigation that didn’t find anything wrong with my job performance — in fact I was encouraged to keep up the good work — my immediate supervisor was sent in following more complaints just three weeks later. Although her investigation turned up nothing, she informed me that she and the corporate office had made the decision to remove me. The stories are endless.

Now, here I sit near the completion of a doctorates degree unemployed and career ruined all because I tried to do the right thing by residents, their families; by the staff and all else involved. I tried to be the Administrator I was licensed to be by the nation and the state in which I worked. I am the type of administrator that people on this blog would appreciate. I face financial ruin and really don’t see anything getting better for me on the job front. In fact, no one in any industry will want to hire me with a “job-hopper” soaked resume.

The nursing home industry is scary and a disgrace. Our seniors, and others needing nursing home care deserve better.”

Bad employees get away with abuse and neglect of nursing home residents — even murder. Good employees are punished (even fired) for doing the right thing on behalf of their residents. This is a legacy that must change!

It drives me nuts when I read or hear someone(s) referred to as “nursing home patient(s)”. Yes, nursing home staff (and visiting health care professionals) can and do provide medical care to folks who live there. In that sense, a person living in a nursing home could be referred to as a “patient.” At the same time persons living such a facility are receiving care in their home. Therefore, in my way of thinking, it is appropriate to refer to these folks as “nursing home residents.

Why is this wording an important issue to me? What difference does it make if someone living in a nursing home is referred to as a “patient” instead of as a “resident”? It makes all the difference in the world because this is a reflection of one of the core problems within the nursing home industry. Many within the industry would like to believe that they do not have to respect the rights of nursing home residents. They seem to conveniently forget that a nursing home IS A HOME to the people who live there. And just as you and I have rights in our home (house, apartment, condo, dormitory room, etc.) so do nursing home residents have legal rights in their home (which happens to be in a long-term health care facility).

Rights. Like the right to have their family and friends visit them without nursing home interference. And the right to wear their regular clothing to bed instead of a gown that many residents find violates their sense of decency because of revealing more of their body than they feel comfortable with showing. As well as the right to have personal conversations with family and friends not eavesdropped on by nursing home staff. ALL of these rights and more were violated by nursing homes who cared for my mother. Comments left on this blog and various news reports confirm that my late mother is one of the vast majority of nursing home residents who have/had their rights violated by nursing home staff on a regular basis. Yes, violating the rights of nursing home residents is a very real problem and the language used reflects what desperately needs to be fixed.

Resident. Respect the resident’s rights because the nursing home is their home! Yes it matters as we work to change the “nursing home culture” so it honors the residents entrusted to the care of long-term health care facilities (a/k/a nursing homes).

Wow. Comments from Nursing Home Industry apologists to this blog never cease to amaze me. Their denial (or outright deception) is pathetic. Their comments do seek to spin our (yours and mine) personal experience and news headlines to make it sound as if nursing home living is overwhelmingly a positive experience. These writers acknowledge that “maybe” a “few” bad persons are employed by nursing homes, but the majority are outstanding care givers. Depicting the nursing home industry as having a “few bad apples” and/or a “few problems” is like saying the Titanic “only has a little hole in the bottom of it.” Talk about denial! Talk about deception.

Who are they trying to convince?

This blog has NEVER claimed that ALL nursing home caregivers are bad, evil or lazy. NEVER. We don’t paint in broad stokes to make our point. No need to. We cite specific cases of abuse and neglect of nursing home residents. These reports (found in blog entries like this one and in Twitter Tweets on the left side of your monitor) come from mainstream news media — not from Nursing Home Industry prostitutes…I mean, paid spokespersons. While other damning allegations featured on this blog come from current and former nursing home administrators, nurses and certified nurses aides.

NursingHomeReality also receives reports of abuse and neglect of nursing home residents from physical therapists, speech therapists and other professionals who work in nursing homes.

It is not as if we family members and friends of nursing home residents need any confirmation of what we’ve experienced with our own eyes. We know the suffering of our loved ones and we know the deception and denial of a well-financed industry that will lie and spin at any cost to cover it’s huge corporate butt. SHAMEFUL!!!

This blog will not back down and you should never give up praying and working for nursing home reform. Together we can make a difference for the better!

Nursing Home News Watch

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