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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!

Nursing Home News Watch

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